An interesting story. A bill is floating in the Kentucky State Legislature to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants. Kentucky is one of the few states left that doesn’t have a statewide smoking ban.
Now, Kentucky is also the second-highest tobacco-producing state in the U.S. and it also has the highest smoking rate in the nation at roughly 30 percent (Kentucky is the only state left above 30 percent.)
All that being said … a Kentucky Health Issues poll shows that two-thirds of the people in Kentucky favour a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. Sixty-six percent are in favour and 29 percent are opposed. Wow, in a tobacco-growing state with the highest smoking rate in the state.
I suspect a pretty strong reason there’s such strong support for a statewide smoking ban is most of the larger cities and several other smaller towns in Kentucky already have smoking bans, so people are used to the idea. The three biggest cities in Kentucky — Louisville, Lexington and Bowling Green — have had total smoking bans for at least a couple of years. There simply aren’t that many places left in Kentucky where people can smoke indoors, at least in restaurants.
Sure enough, the cities of Louisville (74 percent support) and Lexington (75 percent) had the most support for a statewide ban.
In light of this poll, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo said it’s time for a House vote on a smoking ban. In previous years, proposed bans have not been able to get out of committee … to be honest, even with such overwhelming public support, there’s no guarantee a proposed ban will get to a House vote this year, not with the money and lobby power of Big Tobacco in Kentucky.
Still, it’s encouraging and interesting how attitudes have changed about public smoking — even in Kentucky.