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Kentucky Smoking Ban Advocates Watching North Carolina

May 26, 2009

Frankfort, KY - Anti-smoking forces in Kentucky hope their state avoids the path followed by North Carolina: passing a watered-down smoking ban. Starting next year, North Carolina will prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants. While a statewide ban has been discussed in Kentucky, such broad legislation has not yet been offered. Instead, Kentuckians have worked to reduce tobacco use by passing city and county ordinances.

Kentucky Action director Paul Kiser says his group is glad North Carolina got some smoking restrictions passed, but says Kentucky should not follow that lead; in fact, he thinks having no state law would be preferable to North Carolina's. Even though that law snuffs out cigarettes inside North Carolina bars and restaurants, it doesn't go far enough to limit exposure to second-hand smoke, Kiser points out, because it excludes outside areas of those businesses and exempts cigar bars.

"We would definitely not like to see a compromise piece of legislation, like that one, passed in Kentucky."

Kiser says second-hand smoke is identified as the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing 50,000 people every year including 1,000 Kentuckians. Twenty-one cities and counties in Kentucky have passed smoking bans.

Kiser prefers to keep those decisions on the local level rather than to have them superseded by a weak state law.

"Kentucky is in a place where we have local control and have the options to pass good ordinances in local communities. We don't need a statewide law that would compromise the efforts of the local folks."

Kiser says the North Carolina law was a compromise that fell short of how it began: a total ban on smoking in all public places. He hopes that doesn't happen in his state.

Bill Goodman, Public News Service - KY