Statewide Smoke-free Legislation Passes House Health and Welfare Committee

House Bill 173 (HB 173), a bill that would make all of Kentucky’s indoor workplaces and public places smoke-free, has cleared its first legislative hurdle. With 10 votes in favor and 3members voting no, the House Health and Welfare Committee overwhelmingly passed the bill today and will be sent to the full House for consideration.

“Passing for the fourth time in this House committee, and with a companion bill in the Senate, we expect a comprehensive, statewide law to pass this year,” said bill sponsor Representative Susan Westrom (D-Lexington). “For more than 50 years, legislators and the public have been educated and warned about the dangers of tobacco-use.   The time has come to make all Kentucky workplaces and public places smoke-free.” Westrom stated that Kentucky’s smoking rates are the highest in the country, and since many people in the Commonwealth don’t live in smoke-free communities, they are exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke on a daily basis. “All Kentuckians have the right to breathe clean air. People should not have to risk their health to earn a paycheck,” added Westrom.

Representative Julie Adams (R-Louisville), the bill’s lead co-sponsor, said. “We can’t afford to continue allowing smoking in the workplace. It hurts productivity, increases health care costs and makes us less attractive to new business,” she said. Adams championed a local smoke-free law as a member of the Louisville Metro Council which is among 22 other Kentucky communities that have already gained the benefits from placing smoke-free policies.

With the passage of HB 173, Kentucky will join 24 other states and 22 Kentucky communities in making all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. 

A recent poll shows that 65 percent of registered voters support comprehensive, statewide smoke-free legislation. Support is strong across political parties and regions of the state. Kentucky Chamber President and CEO will join Governor Steve Beshear, Senator Julie Denton, Rep. Susan Westrom, Rep. Julie Raque Adams and Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyer and more than 300 of those supporters in the Capitol Rotunda next Wednesday, February 12 to encourage our elected officials to pass HB 173 and SB 117 (filed by Senator Julie Denton (R-Louisville earlier this week).

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