10:40am

Fri February 7, 2014
State Capitol

Statewide Smoking Ban Clears Committee

Credit wkms.org

A Kentucky House committee has approved a ban on indoor smoking in public places and private businesses across the state.

The House Health & Welfare Committee voted 10 to 3. It would provide an exemption for open spaces, and will also apply to e-cigarettes.  State Rep. Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat and the bill's sponsor, says the ban is needed to improve the health of all Kentuckians regardless of if they smoke, and will affect a variety of workplaces.  “What they haven’t considered is, we’re not just talking about restaurants and bars," she says. "We’re talking about people who work in manufacturing companies, who work in law practices, who work in insurance companies. It’s amazing, the different types of places people work. It’s not just restaurants and bars.”  Dissenting Republicans questioned what the ban would mean for personal freedoms. State Rep. Addia Wuchner, a Florence Republican, says it should be up to businesses to decide whether to allow smoking.  “Government-run buildings, that’s one thing," Wuchner says. "But as that private employer, I hope that all of them will take this under consideration as they move forward and as they listen to awareness, and make those decisions to protect their employees, their patrons, but it still becomes the right of that employer to make those decisions in that privately run business, so I vote no."  The bill now heads to a floor debate in the House.  State Sen. Julie Denton, a Louisville Republican who testified in support of the bill, has filed companion legislation in the Senate.  Currently, more than 30 localities across the state, including Louisville, have a smoking ban of some kind.