FRANKFORT, Ky., Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Steve Beshear and former UK and NBA Basketball great Derek Anderson spoke to hundreds of Kentuckians from across the state who gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to urge the General Assembly to pass HB 190 - a comprehensive smoke-free law that will cover all indoor workplaces and public places in Kentucky. The bill, introduced by Representatives Susan Westrom (D-79) and Julie Raque-Adams (R-32), overwhelmingly passed the House Health and Welfare Committee last week. Event participants, representatives of the 300+ organizations and thousands of individuals who are part of the Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition, urged the General Assembly to pass HB 190 this session.
After pointing out that Kentucky ranks #1 in smoking and lung cancer, the Governor said, "Our addiction hurts productivity, jacks up health care costs and literally kills our people. Yet, we've never instituted a statewide law to protect Kentuckians from secondhand smoke. Over one-third of our citizens live in communities that have adopted smoke-free ordinances to protect their residents and workers from the known health hazards of secondhand smoke. It's time that we extend that protection to all Kentuckians."
Representative Westrom, lead sponsor of statewide smoke-free legislation for the third time, stated, "This legislation will protect the health of Kentuckians and save health care costs, without harming business. We don't need to wait any longer to protect the rights of employees and customers to breathe smoke-free air. Asking smokers to step outside in order to protect public health and save lives is a reasonable request.""As a member of the Louisville Metro Council, I sponsored our local smoke-free ordinance. I want the entire state to have the same great experience that Louisville has had. Business at our bars and restaurants is great, employees are healthier and Louisville's image as a forward-thinking, business-friendly city has been enhanced. It's been a huge success," said Representative Raque-Adams. Louisville is among 23 Kentucky communities with smoke-free laws or regulations that, like HB 190, cover all indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars. Twenty-four states have also passed similar laws. Dave Adkisson, President of the Kentucky Chamber, spoke about the business community's support of a smoke-free law. "Tobacco use costs the state's economy $3.8 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. Passing a smoke-free law would be the very best thing Kentucky could do to improve our state's poor health rankings. Smoking is costing employers in lost productivity, in their health insurance premiums and in their tax bills. This drain on our precious financial resources is preventable, and we need to take action now," said Adkisson. Derek Anderson, a starter on the University of Kentucky's 1996 National Championship Men's Basketball Team, 13 th overall pick in the NBA Draft, member of the 2006 Miami Heat NBA Championship Team, and Olympic Gold Medalist, joined smoke-free supporters in the Capitol Rotunda. Anderson stated, "As a Louisville native, I know Kentucky has so much to be proud of. We are known for our hoops and horses. Unfortunately, we are also number 1 in smoking and lung cancer deaths. A smoke-free law can help change that. I spent a big part of my life as an athlete. Now I am a businessman. Smoke-free workplaces make good sense for both public health and our economy, so I hope the Kentucky legislature will make it happen." SOURCE Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition