House Bill 145, a bill that would make all of Kentucky’s indoor workplaces and public places smoke-free, cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday. With 11 votes in favor and 4 members 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 fifth time in this House committee 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,” Westrom added.
Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, a strong supporter of the bill, testified in front of the committee to express the need for the legislation.
“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,” said 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.
Sen. Ralph Alvarado testified in support and noted that this is a statewide problem that deserves a statewide solution. With the passage of HB 145, 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 66 percent of registered voters support comprehensive, statewide smoke-free legislation. In addition, a recent poll of Kentucky Chamber members show that 92 percent support a smoke free law.
Support is strong across political parties and regions of the state. Kentucky Chamber President and CEO will join Lt. Governor Crit Luallen, Rep. Susan Westrom, Rep. David Watkins, Rep. Julie Raque Adams, Sen. Ralph Alvarado and more than 500 supporters in the Capitol Rotunda next Wednesday, February 11 to encourage our elected officials to pass HB 145.
Please let your legislator know that you support smoke free workplaces by calling 1-800-372-7181.