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News Summary

Senate adds exemptions to smoking ban bill

Publication Date: 2/23/2008
  • Author:CARL MANNING
  • Publication:Arkansas City (KS) Traveler

When the Senate Judiciary Committee finished adding exemptions Friday to a proposed statewide smoking ban, including ones for bars and casinos, some senators saw it as a tarnished shell of a bill that is less likely to pass.

Public health advocates want to ban smoking in most public areas, including restaurants, bars and casinos, and work places. But in a bid to increase its chances for passage, senators drafted the bill so that it left the final decision to county voters on whether they wanted to be part of the ban.

When the committee finished its work, the ban applied mainly to restaurants, public buildings, work places and 80 percent of a hotel's rooms. It still mandated the Nov. 4 vote in each county. In counties that opt out, municipal governments still could enact their own smoking bans.

Supporters said a statewide ban is the only way to create a uniform clean indoor air policy throughout the state. Opponents maintain it would hurt businesses and is an example of the state intruding into local control.

The committee plans to decide Monday whether to send the bill to the Senate and the vote is expected to be close...