Chief sponsor of statewide smoking ban says it has the votes to pass the House; prospects in the Senate are not as good

A bill to ban smoking in most workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars, is on its way to the House floor, its main sponsor said after fast approval in committee.

After the House Health and Welfare Committee approved the ban for the fourth straight year, Rep. Susan Westrom said she finally has enough votes to pass it in the full House, so it will hit the floor for the first time.

Rep. Susan Westrom

“I feel confident we have our numbers,” Westrom, D-Lexington, told Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Westrom said she expects the Democrat-controlled House to vote on the bill next week.

The ban’s prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate are not as good, but for the first time this year it is in a Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

“Denton said she hopes to hear her bill next week, but cautioned that support remains uncertain in that chamber,” The Courier-Journal‘s Mike Wynn reports. “Senate
President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, has said that, while he doesn’t
like smoking, he remains adamantly opposed to a statewide ban. According
to Smoke Free Kentucky, a coalition of public health organizations and
other groups that back the measure, about 24 states have similar laws.”

The House committee approved House Bill 173 on a 10-3 vote. The opponents were Republican Reps. Russell Webber of Shepherdsville, Addia
Wuchner of Florence and Tim Moore of Elizabethtown, who said, “This is too far-reaching and impacts people’s liberty and freedom to do something that is legal.”

Advocates say the bill would protect people, including restaurant and bar workers, from secondhand smoke, which has been shown to cause cancer and other diseases. Noting a recent poll that showed two out of three Kentucky adults favor a ban, Westrom said the issue has reached a “tipping point. . . . Our
argument is so scientifically sound, people can’t turn their head away
and say we are invading their lives. No, we are saving
lives.”

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