House panel passes bill to ban smoking in public

By: Rebekah Pewitt Email
By: Rebekah Pewitt Email

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - In the State of the Commonwealth Address Wednesday night, Governor Steve Beshear surprised some by calling for a state-wide smoking ban.

The proposal passed in the House Health and Welfare Committee Thursday.

At Jabo's State of Mine Restaurant and Bar in Hazard, cigarettes are welcome inside.

“A lot of older people when they come in the door they ask do you have a smoking section before they even ask for a menu,” said manager, Amy Combs.

Even from some that do not smoke welcome them.

“I've smoked all my life until I quit 15 years ago, but I still don't mind smelling it,” said

Legislation was approved by the House health and welfare committee that would put those cigarettes out inside public places.

Around three dozen cities and counties in Kentucky already have smoking bans.

“It cost Kentucky $3.8 billion dollars a year in healthcare and lost work costs. This is a situation we can remedy,” said Representative Susan Westrom.

The proposal would force people to smoke outside at least 15 feet from the door, but some say the region may not be ready for a ban.

“I think we should cater to the people. This is Eastern Kentucky and in Eastern Kentucky a majority of the people are still smokers,” said Combs.

The measure now goes to the full House for consideration.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo tells the Herald Leader that he supports a statewide smoking ban, but Senate President Robert Stivers said the government should not tell businesses they cannot regulate smoking on their own property.

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