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Supporters See Progress on Smoke-Free Law Despite No Passage

PHOTO: Lawmakers leading the push for a statewide smoke-free law say progress was made this year even though the bill ultimately died in the Senate. Photo by Greg Stotelmyer.
PHOTO: Lawmakers leading the push for a statewide smoke-free law say progress was made this year even though the bill ultimately died in the Senate. Photo by Greg Stotelmyer.
April 1, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. - This year's legislative session, which ended last week, was the fifth straight year a statewide smoke-free bill failed to pass.

As the gavel fell on the 2015 session, the bill's annual sponsor, Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, tweeted, "Maybe not perfection, but certainly progress!" The push to prohibit smoking in all workplaces and public places passed the House, but died in a Senate committee.

"Progress was made," said Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, "but it also allowed us to kind of take a step back and see what people are willing to accept."

Before the bill passed the House, lawmakers attached amendments, including a grandfather provision, stipulating that the statewide law would not repeal existing local laws that restrict smoking.

While some lawmakers want the decision left at the local level, Adams said the impact of smoking on Kentuckians' health is a statewide problem. She noted that according to Smoke-Free Kentucky, health-care costs directly attributed to tobacco total nearly $2 billion a year.

"The dollars that we're looking at," she said, "are so tremendous that I think that it deserves a statewide response, a state-level response."

Adams said she is OK with some exemptions, for example, for cigar bars. Adams had filed her own bill, similar to the House version, in the Senate, but it too died in committee.

This year's legislative session, which ended last week, was the fifth straight year a statewide smoke-free bill failed to pass. But, as Greg Stotelmyer reports, supporters of the idea remain optimistic.

The legislation was House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 189.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY