Health and welfare committee discusses statewide smoke-free law

Kentucky is getting one step closer to kicking its bad smoking habit. The Interim Joint Committee on Health & Welfare discussed a proposed statewide smoke-free law today. Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington) presented her plan to sponsor a bill in the 2012 legislative session that would institute a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law in all indoor workplaces, restaurants, bars and other public places in Kentucky. Rep. Westrom was joined by several other supporters, including Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

“Over the last couple of years, our members have stood firmly behind a statewide smoking law,” said Adkisson.

Seventy percent of members who participated in the Chamber’s recent public policy survey indicated they would have supported the bill filed during Kentucky’s 2011 legislative session that would have banned smoking inside public buildings and workplaces.  

 “The attitude in Kentucky is changing toward smoking, and the health effects can no longer be ignored,” said Adkisson.  “The business community now sees the effects of both smoking and secondhand smoke on our workforces in terms of absenteeism and lost productivity. We also see the effect on our insurance premiums and tax bills. Smoking is not only killing us, it is bankrupting us – both in terms of costs to business and cost of government. The Kentucky Chamber commends our legislative leaders for taking these important steps and we believe our leaders need to continue to improve Kentucky’s public policies with regard to smoking.”

Overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of premature death and disease in nonsmokers. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke in public places or at work significantly increase their risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory illnesses. What used to be a primarily health-related issue is now seeing overwhelming support among the state’s business community as employers realize the impact on their employees and on their bottom line.

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