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Daily Newscasts

Lawmakers Ponder Move to Make Kentucky Smoke-Free

January 30, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Smoking in restaurants, workplaces and other indoor public spots would be prohibited in Kentucky as part of a bill just introduced in the state Legislature.

House Bill 289, introduced by Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, would enact a statewide, indoor smoke-free policy to help protect nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Jodi Mitchell, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, says the policy champions a singular goal: to improve the health of all Kentuckians.

"That is not only individuals who go to businesses, but it's also individuals who work in businesses."

Tonya Chang, government relations director for the American Heart Association, says a coalition of groups known as Smoke Free Kentucky is working to push Westrom's bill through. She says smoke-free policies such as the one passed in Lexington several years ago prompt a lot of people to put cigarettes down for good.

"In Lexington, Ky., when we implemented our law, there was about a 19 percent drop in the smoking rate that year, as a result of the law."

Another compelling byproduct of a statewide smoke-free policy, Mitchell says, is a sizable savings in health-care costs.

"There's high costs associated with treating tobacco-related illness. It not only bogs down employers, but it's a tremendous detriment on our public health programs. So, this is good for health and good for business."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about one in every four adults in Kentucky smokes, among the nation's highest rates.

Opponents of a statewide smoke-free law believe the decision should be left up to individual towns and cities.

The bill's text is online at

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY