Reaction to Beshear's Smoking Announcement

Sep 8, 2014

Credit Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

A Kentucky health group is lauding an announcement that state-owned properties will be going tobacco-free.

Governor Beshear last week issued an executive order banning tobacco products and e-cigarettes from state-owned and leased buildings and vehicles, effective November 20th.

Susan Zepeda is CEO of The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. She says the governor’s announcement is another indication that attitudes toward smoking have changed in a state known for growing tobacco.

Zepeda believes political leaders understand most Kentuckians support the idea of cutting back on the number of places where people can smoke.

“The polling that we’ve done suggests that a strong majority of Kentuckians, from both political parties, would like to see a statewide, smoke-free ordinance,” Zepeda said.

Statewide smoking bans have been introduced in the Kentucky legislature, but have failed to pass.

The new ban is the latest example of a decrease in the number of places where people can legally smoke in the Bluegrass State, which has the nation’s highest rates of smoking and cancer-related deaths.

Zepeda says she’s not surprised the Governor issued the tobacco ban on state properties, given smoking’s impact on the commonwealth.

“We still have 28 percent of our adult population that is smoking, and that’s resulting in $1.9 billion per year in health costs to the state,” Zepeda said. “There are some who say that that’s actually fairer than doing the patchwork city-by-city and county-by-county approach that we’ve been using.”

More than two dozen cities and counties in the state have passed versions of local smoking bans, including Bowling Green, Campbellsville, Glasgow, Hardin County, Owensboro, and Somerset.

According to a Bluegrass Poll taken earlier this year, 57-percent of Kentuckians favored a statewide law prohibiting smoking in bars, restaurants, and other businesses.  

Opponents of such a ban say individual businesses should have the right to decide whether or not smoking is allowed on their property.