Smoke-Free Coalition to Kentucky Lawmakers: “No More Excuses”


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The Kentucky Smoke-Free Coalition has a message for state lawmakers: Make a comprehensive, statewide, indoor, smoke-free law a “number one priority” during the 2015 legislative session.

Amy Barkley, chair of the Kentucky Smoke-Free Coalition, says her organization has proposed bills to “educate” legislators over the last four sessions – and it’s time for passage.

“No more time needs to be taken, no more excuses,” she says. “We need to have a statewide smoke-free law to protect everyone’s right to breathe smoke-free air at work.”

About one-third of Kentucky’s 4.3 million residents are currently covered by local smoking ordinances.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says 92 percent of its members support a comprehensive smoke-free law. Ashli Watts, public affairs director with the chamber, says it’s both a health and business issue.

“We often say that smoking’s not only killing us, it’s bankrupting us,” says Watts. “This is in terms of loss of productivity of workers and increased health insurance costs, which all businesses are very well aware of right now. Smoking affects economic development.”

Watts also says an unhealthy workforce hinders efforts to attract businesses to Kentucky. According to the coalition, Kentucky has the highest rate of smokers and leads the nation in lung cancer.

Opponents of a statewide law cite concerns about the impact on property rights and personal freedoms, but Barkley says lawmakers should not ignore the dangers of secondhand smoke.

“We need to continue to impress on the General Assembly that secondhand smoke is not just an annoyance,” says Barkley. “It’s a serious cause of disease and even death in nonsmokers.”

State Representative Susan Westrom says she will “carry” a smoke-free law for the fifth straight session when lawmakers return to Frankfort in January. Westrom pre-filed BR 127 for the 2015 session, which would prohibit smoking in public places and places of employment.

Read the article online.