Statewide smoking ban legislation continues to spark debate - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Statewide smoking ban legislation continues to spark debate

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The current legislation would ban smoking in all enclosed public areas and any work spaces including restaurants and bars. The current legislation would ban smoking in all enclosed public areas and any work spaces including restaurants and bars.
Dr. Shawn Jones Dr. Shawn Jones
Ashli Watts Ashli Watts
Ken Moellman Ken Moellman
Monday night the legislation sparked a lively discussion on KET's Kentucky Tonight. Monday night the legislation sparked a lively discussion on KET's Kentucky Tonight.

LEXINGTON, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is backing two state lawmakers who are pushing for a statewide smoking ban. Monday night the legislation sparked a lively discussion on KET's Kentucky Tonight.

Host Bill Goodman had a panel discussion with guests Dr. Shawn Jones, a past President with the Kentucky Medical Association, Jim Waters, President of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Ashli Watts, representing the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and Ken Moellman, a spokesman for Northern Kentucky Choice.

The current legislation would ban smoking in all enclosed public areas and any work spaces including restaurants and bars.

A poll earlier this month conducted by The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky indicated the majority of Kentuckians like the idea of a statewide ban with 65 percent of respondents supporting the measure.  Although, Waters told the panel he believes the poll is misleading as you have to look at the way the questions were asked in the poll.  He believes the majority of Kentuckians support a ban in public spaces, but also support choice in private businesses.

Jones, representing the KMA said on the show there are comprehensive smoking bans in about 25 states that mirror the legislation in Kentucky. He contends smoke-free indoor environments are the best way to prevent harm and exposure.  Jones explained, "The scientific evidence is indisputable that second hand smoke is not a mere annoyance, it's a serious health hazard that leads to disability and pre-mature death in children and in non-smoking adults."

Moellman disagrees saying, " It's a private property issue and I believe a property owner can decide whether or not to allow smoking on their property." He told the group, "We've seen in northern Kentucky many, many businesses have chosen to be smoke-free voluntarily and that's been by market forces and consumer demand and the business owners respond to what's being demanded by the customers."

Medical experts believe that concept doesn't address employees in those businesses who may be harmed by second hand smoke.

Watts representing the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce said the organization supports the smoke free bill saying, "Smoking is killing Kentuckians, while it's bankrupting the state,"Watts explained, besides the health statistics, she was speaking in terms of health insurance costs for employers.  The chamber also contends the bill sponsored by Louisville Republican Julie Denton and Lexington Democrat Susan Westrom would help the state attract new business.