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Editorial | It's time to make Kentucky smoke-free

Publication Date: 1/13/2013
  • Author:Editorial
  • Publication:Louisville Courier-Journal

For the past two years, bills to create a statewide ban on smoking in public places have been filed in the General Assembly, only to get stubbed out.

Let’s hope the third try is a charm.

Otherwise, Kentuckians will continue to die or become ill from cigarette smoke — their own and second-hand — until lawmakers get serious about the matter and take steps to help protect smokers from themselves as well as those exposed to their smoke.

Last year a bill to enact a statewide smoking ban for the first time passed a legislative committee — clearing House Health and Welfare — but promptly died after lawmakers decided not to try to take it to the full House for a vote, reasoning it might be too “difficult” a vote for some members.

Difficult? Come on, members of the Kentucky General Assembly! Are you under the impression voters sent you to Frankfort just to do easy stuff?

Meanwhile, the situation in the state is not improving.

Once again, Kentucky leads the nation in smoking, with 29 percent of adults who smoke...

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has supported the bill and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, and Sen. Julie Denton, a Louisville Republican who serves as chairwoman of Senate Health and Welfare, have said they back the measure.

“We do have a right to clean air,” Ms. Denton said, at a 2011 hearing on the proposal.

Yes, we do! And we have a right to action by lawmakers this year when it comes before them for the third year in a row.

Then the General Assembly can move onto to something guaranteed to cut smoking — raising the state’s paltry cigarette tax from 60 cents a pack to at least $1. That might be a little more “difficult.”

But lawmakers could do it if they tried.