Governors for Smoke-free Air

February 07, 2013

Underscoring the bipartisan backing for smoke-free laws, Kentucky’s Democratic governor and Oklahoma’s Republican governor have highlighted their support for such laws in their state-of-the-state speeches this week.


In Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear used his State of the Commonwealth address to remind lawmakers of smoking’s devastating toll on the state and the need for a statewide smoke-free law:

Over the years, we've taken numerous steps to reduce Kentucky's historic addiction to tobacco. And yet we still rank either dead last, or next to last, in the number of adults who smoke, teens who smoke and pregnant women who smoke.

Our addiction hurts productivity, jacks up health care costs and kills our people.  Our smoking-related mortality rate is the worst in the nation.

Yet we've never instituted a statewide law to protect Kentuckians from secondhand smoke.

More than half the states in the nation have smoke-free laws. So do three dozen cities and counties in Kentucky…. It's time for us to begin looking seriously at doing this on a statewide level, and to extend this protection for all our citizens.

Six in 10 Kentucky adults now favor a statewide smoke-free law, and that support increases with each survey taken.

This isn't a rights issue. People could still smoke. Just not in places where their smoke endangers the health of our workers and others.

One day after the speech, the Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee today approved the smoke-free legislation on an 11-0 vote, with four abstentions. Next stop: the full House.


In Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin urged the Legislature to give local governments the authority to enact smoke-free laws, which are currently blocked by state law:

Any plan to improve the health of Oklahomans must address the state’s number one killer: tobacco. The use of tobacco products costs Oklahomans more than $2 billion in health care costs and lost workforce productivity annually.  Almost 6,000 Oklahomans die each year due to smoking-related illnesses. That includes both of my parents. My father died from a smoking related illness when he was younger than I am today.

This year I am supporting a proposal to restore local control to cities and towns regarding tobacco use in public places. The implications for health can be enormous.

These remarks are an important reminder that support for smoke-free laws transcends political lines.  Voters of all political persuasions – and many leaders who represent them – agree: It’s time to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air.