Smoke Free Kentucky Talks to Grayson Chamber

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THE INDEPENDENT | LANA BELLAMY | FEBRUARY 10, 2015

Carter County native Roger Cline, a representative with Smoke Free Kentucky, presented the Grayson Area Chamber of Commerce with a staggering statistic at its monthly meeting — that 85 percent of women exposed to secondhand smoke can develop lung cancer.

During his presentation at Johnny’s Pizza to a room full of Grayson business representatives, he used the small restaurant as an example and asked the audience to consider the welfare of their “daughters.”

He said when thinking about restricting smoking in indoor public areas, most people think the legislation is being considerate of customers not wanting to be exposed to tobacco smoke.

While this may be true, Cline said it goes a step further in protecting another demographic.

“…It’s to protect these young ladies back here,” he said, referring to the waitresses who were entering in and out of the meeting area, jotting down orders and delivering meals to customers.

“It’s one of those things, as they work in these areas and are breathing that smoke, it’s basically killing them,” he said.

Cline then presented the crowd with a series of “what if” questions. He first asked how many chamber members present had daughters. A few raised their hands.

“What if your daughter came to you and said, ‘Mom, or Dad, I’ve been offered this great job. The pay is great, the benefits are great, the retirement is great and it’s a job I think I would really enjoy doing.’ What would you say to them?’” he asked. “‘Go for it!’ What if the next statement was ‘There is an 85 percent chance I’m going to die from this job?’

“That is exactly what happens every day — and I use ‘daughter’ for a specific purpose — because that’s what happens each day when we send our daughters out to work in areas that are smoke-filled.”

After using Johnny’s Pizza as an example, he then said he enjoyed eating at the Italian restaurant because it was a smoke-free facility.

House Bill 145 is a bill to restrict smoking in indoor work places public areas, and is not a smoking ban.

“So many times this bill has been labeled as a ban against smoking. That’s not what it is,” Cline said. “… If a person wants to smoke, that’s fine…. I think that’s something that’s an individual choice.”

Most businesses in Grayson are, by choice, smoke-free facilities, however there is no legislation prohibiting smoking in public places. More than 20 communities in Kentucky have gone smoke-free, as well as about 24 other states.

At the meeting, chamber members were asked to reach out to their legislative representatives, Republican Rep. Jill York and Democratic Sen. Robin Webb, both from Grayson, and ask them to support the bill.

Cline said he has been advocating for Smoke Free Kentucky’s efforts since state Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, introduced a bill to restrict public indoor smoking four years ago.

The bill has not been completely successful in the Kentucky legislature yet, but Cline said each year the measure gets closer to fruition.

Today, the group, along with several supporters that include Boyd and Carter County students, are meeting in Frankfort where Smoke Free representatives said they are “hopeful” HB145 will be called for a vote in the House of Representatives.

The bill was approved by the Democratically-controlled House during last year’s session, but met opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Cline said he believes the bill is picking up bi-partisan support this year and thinks, if it makes it to the Senate floor, it has a chance of being approved.

Last week, the bill passed out of the House Health and Welfare Committee with an 11-4 vote.

Read the article online.