January 7, 2011 - A majority of Kentuckians favor a statewide smoking ban in public places such as restaurants, stores and offices, according to a poll released Thursday, January 6th by anti-smoking activists.
Kentucky Ranked Highest in Smoking-Related Deaths..
In 2007, the median prevalence of adult current smoking in the 50 states and DC was 19.8%. Among states, current smoking prevalence was highest in Kentucky (28.3%), West Virginia (27.0%), and Oklahoma (25.8%); and lowest in Utah (11.7%), California (14.3%), and Connecticut (15.5%). Smoking prevalence was 8.7% in USVI, 12.2% in PR, and 31.1% in Guam. Median smoking prevalence among the 50 states and DC was 21.3% (range: 15.5%-28.8%) for men and 18.4% (range: 8.0%-27.8%) for women. Men had a significantly higher prevalence of smoking than women in 30 states, DC, and all three territories. (State-Specific Prevalence and Trends in Adult Cigarette Smoking—United States, 1998-2007, MMWR. 2009;58:221-226) House Bill 193 was filed Thursday by Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, and Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson. Watkins, a family physician, said Kentucky needs to curb exposure to cigarette smoke as well as reduce its rate of smoking, the highest in the nation. On Thursday night, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, told a Chamber of Commerce dinner that he supports a statewide smoking ban and also plans to file a bill to ban smoking in cars if there are passengers under the age of 16.
Under the bill, people caught smoking in areas where smoking is prohibited would be guilty of a violation and would face a $100 fine for a first infraction and a $250 fine for subsequent violations. Business operators would face even stiffer fines for violations. The first violation would bring a $250 fine. A second infraction would draw a $500 fine if committed within one year of the first violation. Each additional violation within that same year would result in a $2,500 fine.
The poll shows that 59 percent of Kentucky voters favor a ban on smoking in public places with 39 percent opposed. Among supporters, 44 percent strongly favored the ban and 15 percent somewhat favored it. The support carried across party lines – with 60 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats supporting the statewide ban. Among independent voters, 55 percent supported the ban and 58 percent of people who identify with the Tea Party favored it, the poll found.
The poll also found 76 percent of those questioned believe exposure to second-hand smoke is harmful.
Nationwide, 23 states have bans on smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars, according to the Smoke-Free Kentucky coalition. In Kentucky, 27 local communities including Louisville and Lexington ban smoking in public buildings.
References: Poll: Kentuckians favor statewide smoking ban by Deborah Yetter (email@example.com), courier-journal.com, 1/6/2011; Smoking ban bill introduced in Ky. legislature by BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press, Bloomberg.com, 1/7/2011; VIDEO - Smouldering debate over smoking bans in Kentucky set to re-ignite by: Bill Price, photography by Eric Clajus, kypost.com, 1/6/2011.