Although its chances of becoming law seem unlikely at best, Friday's vote in the Kentucky House to endorse a smoking ban counted as a notable moment in a state still steeped in tobacco culture.
The Kentucky House endorsed a statewide smoking ban in public buildings and most workplaces, with the measure passing the Democratic-led chamber 51-46. The bill now heads to the Republican-run Senate, where it faces a bigger challenge.
"After five years of hard work, I’m delighted we’ve gotten it through the House," said Democratic Rep.
Westrom said about 950 people die every year in Kentucky because of secondhand smoke exposure and that tobacco use costs Kentucky families and businesses $4.7 billion a year in healthcare bills and lost productivity.
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer has said there isn't much sentiment in the chamber to pass a smoking ban, according to the Associated Press.
While tobacco has historically been an important part of Kentucky's agriculture and economy, the industry isn't what it once was. According to the latest
The bill was amended so it will not pre-empt the local smoke-free ordinances that are already in effect. The bill was also amended to exempt cigar bars, cigar clubs, tobacco stores and private clubs.