Smoke-Free Kentucky is Good for Business

October 24, 2011

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A quarter century ago, Kentucky lawmakers responded to a proposal for smoke-free indoor air by lighting up cigarettes in a legislative chamber.

Now smoke-free advocates in the tobacco-producing state are getting a stunningly different reaction — a strong endorsement from the state's leading business group.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says a majority of businesses support a statewide smoke-free law, in part because of the steep health care costs and productivity losses associated with smoking.

'Smoking is not only killing us, it's bankrupting us,' David Adkisson, president of the Chamber, told members of the Legislature's Health and Welfare Committee.

The smoke-free legislation is sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington.  The bill, to be considered in next year's legislative session, would require smoke-free workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars.  Across the country, evidence shows that smoke-free laws do not hurt business at restaurants and bars and in fact, can have a positive impact.

Support for a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law is strong across Kentucky, with 59 percent favoring the policy. It's time for Kentucky to join 29 other states, Washington, DC, and more than 600 cities across the country that have enacted smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars.