Two-thirds of Kentuckians want statewide smoking ban; Stumbo says it’s time for vote

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Kentucky Health News
 

Kentuckians have remained steady in their support for a comprehensive statewide smoking ban with two-thirds supporting it, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll. Hours after the poll was released, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo said it is time for a House floor vote on the proposal.
 

The poll, taken Oct. 8 through Nov. 6, found that 66 percent of adults favored a law that would prohibit smoking in most public places, while 29 percent opposed it. These are virtually the same results as last year when 65 percent supported the ban and 29 percent opposed it. The poll’s error margin is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
 

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The poll was conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati for the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.
 

Majorities in each political party supported a statewide smoke-free law: 68 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of independents. These results were also almost the same as last year. Support for a statewide smoke-free ban decreased among those with a high-school education or less, but increased among those who had been to college. For the detailed results, click here.
 

Not surprisingly, the poll found that 80 percent of Kentucky adults who have never smoked and 71 percent of former smokers support such a law, while only 40 percent of current smokers do; 53 percent said they oppose it and 7 percent said they didn’t know or weren’t sure.
 

Those who said they were in excellent or very good health were most likely to favor a ban, at 75 percent. Generally, the unhealthier the respondent, the less likely he or she was to favor it. Among those who said they were in fair or poor health, 55 percent favored a ban.
 

Lexington (75 percent) and Louisville (74 percent) showed the highest levels of support for the ban. While most of those in Appalachian area-development districts support it, support in Appalachian Kentucky declined to 54 percent in 2014 from 72 percent in 2013. That was offset by gains in other areas. The error margin for this smaller sample is plus or minus 5.4 percentage points.
 

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive smoke-free laws. Kentucky has several reasons to pass one. It leads the nation in smoking as well as lung cancer and deaths from it. Second-hand smoke is estimated to kill 950 Kentuckians a year, and research indicates that it increases the risk of heart and lung disease by 20 to 30 percent.
 

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky noted in its news release that the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General Report recommends “eliminating all exposure to secondhand smoke” and last years report “offered evidence that smoke-free indoor air policies are effective in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke.”
 

A smoking ban came closest to a floor vote in the full House last year, but has never gotten out of committee in the Senate. House Speaker Greg Stumbo said on KET’s “Kentucky Tonight” Monday that it is time for a floor vote, the best sign yet that it will get one. But Senate President Robert Stivers maintained that smoking bans should be done locally, not statewide.
 

After four days this week devoted to organization and ethics training, the legislature will recess until early February. The session of 30 legislative days must end by March 31.
 

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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