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Blowing smoke about the smoking ban

Publication Date: 2013-03-15
  • Author:Herald-Leader Editorial
  • Publication:Lexington Herald-Leader

Standing up for business owners' rights is a lot more respectable than standing up for lung cancer and stillbirths.

So the Kentucky Farm Bureau and others wielded the property-rights argument to defeat a statewide smoke-free law in this legislative session.

It's nothing new, of course, for the Farm Bureau to put the tobacco industry's interests ahead of Kentuckians' health.

Heck, it's nothing new for the legislature to put the tobacco industry's interests ahead of Kentuckians' health.

The Farm Bureau is entitled to its opinions.

But lawmakers should know that nothing in the U.S. Constitution, the Kentucky Constitution or a century of legal precedent supports the notion that smoke-free laws violate the rights of business or property owners.

On the contrary, courts, including the Kentucky Supreme Court, have said repeatedly that governments have a duty to protect public health and that controlling secondhand smoke is a reasonable exercise of that duty.

In upholding smoke-free Lexington, the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2004 specifically said the smoking ban did not improperly infringe on property rights.

Also, federal and state laws and a century of case law entitle workers to conditions that do not pose serious harm to their health.

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