Rep. Westrom, Sen.-elect Adams will sponsor statewide smoking bans in 2015

12/08/2014 04:47 PM

LEXINGTON — For the fifth consecutive year, state Rep. Susan Westrom willl file a bill that would ban smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces across the state.

The issue has another advocate in state Sen.-elect Julie Raque Adams, who said arguments against a similar ban in Louisville have not come to fruition.

Westrom blamed House Democratic leaders last year after a statewide smoking ban failed to receive a floor vote in the chamber, but Adams, a state representative who was elected to the Senate in this year’s midterms, said she was “very encouraged” by the “mushy middles” in the House who said they would back the smoking ban if it came to an up-or-down vote.

“I think those mushy middles were going to definitely break our way,” Adams, R-Louisville, said Monday at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s legislative preview meeting. “We just need, you know, we need leadership to take this up and give us some sort of assurance that we can have a vote on the floor.”

Retiring Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, introduced a similar smoking ban last year, but the legislation failed to gain traction in the GOP-led Senate. Adams, who won Denton’s vacant seat, said she would follow her predecessor’s footsteps in next year’s 30-day session.

“I think there have already been several senators who have approached me that are new who said that they would like to sign on and participate in the effort,” she said. “… I think that’s a very positive occurrence, and so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed.”

Westrom, D-Lexington, ticked off a number of concerns with secondhand smoke, such as increasing health care costs and limiting economic development as businesses seek healthier communities.

For Westrom, she hopes the fifth time is the charm for a statewide smoking ban in 2015.

“Sen. Raque Adams and I are determined that we’re going to see this take place because we know that this will help move our state forward and will certainly help the industries that you represent,” Westrom said.

In the aftermath of Louisville Metro Council’s passage of a smoking ban in 2006 — and again in 2008 after a judge struck down the ordinance — “none of the doom and gloom
predictions” from the ordinance’s opposition were realized.

In fact, the former metro councilwoman said, the city has thrived since barring indoor smoking in public places. A plethora of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues have opened or remained in business despite the council’s decision to snuff out smoking.

What’s more, business leaders told the metro council that Louisville’s prior inaction on indoor smoking affected their hiring capabilities and, in turn, their competitiveness with other businesses.

“I remember anecdotally when we were talking about this at the Louisville Metro Council level, we had business leaders who came in to testify, and one of them said, ‘You know, when we bring in young talent, and we try to recruit young talent from across this country, they walk through the Louisville airport and they have to walk through smoking sections,’” Adams said.

“And they said, ‘Before they even get to our company, they’re completely turned off because they’re walking through smoking sections at the airport.’”

Videos from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s legislative preview meeting by Pure Politics reporter Don Weber.


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