Statewide Smoking Ban Considered by Kentucky Lawmakers

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WOWKTV | BEN NANDY | FEBRUARY 13, 2015

A smoking ban in public places has never been seriously considered by Kentucky lawmakers until the State House of Representatives made a statement on Friday with a 51-46 vote in favor of a statewide ban.

During a debate over smokers’ rights, the sponsor of House Bill 145, Rep. Susan Westrom of Kentucky’s 79th District, said 950 Kentuckians die each year due to exposure to secondhand smoke.

While the bill narrowly passed the Democratic-led House, it is not expected to have the same success in the Republican-led Senate.

The House vote is being seen as a historic first step toward improving the health of Kentucky residents.

A recent Gallup poll found Kentucky to have the highest rate of smoking at 30.2% of those surveyed saying they smoke.

Kentucky was followed by West Virginia (29.9%), Mississippi (27%), Oklahoma (25.2%) and Ohio (25%).

According to the United Health Foundation, Kentucky’s overall health rank was 47th out of 50 states.

Research compiled by the Kentucky Department for Public Health says there are 23 community-wide ordinances that prohibit smoking in public places.

The state cigarette tax is $0.60 per pack of 20 cigarettes, compared to a combined average of $1.31 per pack for the other 49 states.

A proposed statewide ban has never reached as far as House Bill 145 already has.

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