Smoke-Free Legislation "Ready To Roll," But Could Face Uphill Battle In Senate

Jan 8, 2014

It’s the fourth year lawmakers in Frankfort are pressing for a statewide smoke-free law, but advocates say the momentum is now on their side.

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General report on smoking, and a group of Kentucky lawmakers hope it will also mark a landmark for Kentucky.

Asked what’s different this time around, Rep. Susan Westrom pointed to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

"When they revealed the numbers revealing indicating that 65 percent were in support of this and only 35 percent were against, to me that answers the question of how educated our people are. Now the question is how bold are our legislators and how much are they listening to what's being talked about back home?" she said.

While Westrom is confident the measure will pass the House and has a clear ally in Governor Steve Beshear, it’s unclear if a companion measure in the Senate will fare so well. Tuesday night, Senate President Robert Stivers said while he does not endorse smoking, it’s not the government’s role to tell business owners how to run their businesses.

"It is a personal choice and yes I know the Centers for Disease Control says there are a lot of things that we should not do and we don't legislatively stop that," the Republican leader argued.

Westrom says her group hopes to get the House bill out of the Health and Welfare Committee after January, pass it, and then work with the Senate on a final bill.