Kentucky is one step closer to enacting a statewide smoking ban after legislation sailed through the House Committee on Health and Welfare Thursday.
House Bill 190, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom, a Democrat of Lexington, would prohibit smoking in public places and places of employment.
It's the third year the bill has been proposed, but only the second time it's been heard in committee. Gov. Steve Beshear endorsed the proposal Wednesday night in his State of the Commonwealth address.
Sylvia Suhl, of the Central Kentucky of the American Heart Association spoke at length about the bill's support from the medical community.
Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in public places are set to try their luck in passing such a law for the third legislative session.
Smoke Free Kentucky has started an advertising campaign to raise support for the smoking ban and a recent poll showed a majority of Kentucky support such a ban.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports a statewide ban and believes such a bill would pass his chamber. A House committee passed the bill in 2012, but the bill's sponsor did not push it for a floor vote.
Many cities across Kentucky have implemented their own smoke free laws, including House Stumbo’s home, Prestonsburg. Lexington implemented the state's first smoke-free law in 2004.
And after three years of trying, the speaker says he believes his chamber will pass the bill.
For the second year in a row, a poll shows a majority of Kentucky favor a statewide smoking ban.
Last year the poll, conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, showed a majority favored a ban for the first time.
And now that number has increased to 62 percent of registered voters favoring a statewide ban. Less than 40 percent opposed such a ban, while the rest had no opinion.
“We have polled on this issue since 2010 and support for a smoke-free law has increased steadily since then,” said Dr. Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “This issue continues to gain support with Kentuckians of all ages and from all walks of life.”
Officials in another western Kentucky city have taken a preliminary vote to ban smoking. The Kentucky New Era reports the Hopkinsville City Council narrowly passed a first reading of the measure during a meeting Tuesday night in which the mayor cast the deciding vote. A second reading must be approved before the law takes effect.