Backers of an effort to ban smoking in all public places in Kentucky took their message on the road this week in hopes of getting legislation passed in the 2013 legislation session. The Smoke Free Kentucky Coalition swept through the state's largest cities to gather support for a final punch to be delivered at the annual Fancy Farm political picnic in Graves County Saturday.
Beth Musgrave of The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that one of the week's first stops was at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, a longtime supporter of the statewide smoking ban. "We know that a majority of Kentuckians support a smoke-free Kentucky," said Amy Barkley, chairwoman of the coalition. (KRT graphic)
Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, has sponsored a statewide smoking ban for several years. During the 2012 legislative session, the House Health and Welfare Committee passed the measure, but the full House did not vote on it. Westrom told the Herald-Leader that said she did not aggressively pursue the matter during the 2012 legislative session because all 100 members of the House are up for re-election in November. "But we've had several members who have said that they will be co-sponsors" next year, she said.
Musgrave notes that even Westrom is unsure how the the Republican-led Senate will vote. Senate President David Williams has previously said he supports the idea of a statewide smoking ban, while opponents of the proposal have said it represents an overreach of government power. "There are personal property rights that are being trampled," Rep. Ben Waide, R-Madisonville, said when he voted against a statewide smoking ban in March.