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Statewide ban a smoke screen

Publication Date: 2009-01-14
  • Author:Editorial
  • Publication:Lexington Herald-Leader

A smoke-free Kentucky? Sounds great, doesn't it?

Until you realize that any statewide smoking ban enacted this year would probably leave Kentucky with weaker protections against secondhand smoke in the long-run.

Why? Because anything our pro-tobacco legislature is likely to pass would be weaker than the ordinances that local governments are enacting. A statewide ban would drain the political energy from local efforts to enact better protections.

And without a ton of money behind it, enforcement would be a joke.

If Senate President David Williams is serious about reducing tobacco's toll on Kentucky's health, he'd support a big increase in the excise tax on tobacco and channel $53 million a year from the increase into tobacco control. Then enact a statewide smoking ban.

Kentucky spends just $4.2 million a year on smoking prevention and cessation, and some of that comes from the federal government. The state should be spending $57.2 million, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

At least that much would have to be spent on prevention, education and enforcement to reap the benefits of a state smoking ban.

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