State Senate President David Williams expressed firm support for the proposed statewide smoking ban at the Kentucky Press Association‘s forum for gubernatorial candidates in Louisville Friday.
“Secondhand smoke is full of carcinogens, it’s a health hazard to workers … and it ought to be stopped, and now’s the time to stop it,” said Williams (standing in Courier-Journal photo). Williams endorsed a ban when Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear proposed increasing cigarette taxes in 2008, but some saw that as political gamesmanship while Williams sorted out his position on the tax; he eventually supported a bill raising tobacco and alcohol taxes. The issue arose when forum moderator Al Cross (seated in photo) asked candidates what they would do to improve Kentucky’s poor health status and followed up by asking their positions on a smoking ban.
Williams is running in the Republican gubernatorial primary against businessman Phil Moffett, who said the scientific findings about the health effects of secondhand smoke have been “overblown.” He and independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith both said property owners shoould retain the right to decide smoking policies. For C-J political writer Joe Gerth’s story on the forum, click here. For a live-blog account from Kenny Colston of cn|2 Politics, go here.