More Kentuckians support smoke-free law, health survey says

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comJanuary 6, 2014 

20100604 No smoking

ILLUSTRATION BY RICK NEASE — McClatchy-Tribune

A recent poll found that 65 percent of Kentucky adults support a state law limiting smoking in public places. That majority includes 38 percent of the commonwealth's smokers.

Poll data released last week by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, a nonprofit health policy research group based in Louisville, indicate that support for a smoking ban has increased over the past several years.

"Support for a smoke-free law has increased consistently since we began polling on this issue in 2010," said Susan Zepeda, president of the foundation. "Our findings reveal the statewide smoke-free issue continues to gain support."

In 2010, about 48 percent of Kentuckians favored smoking restrictions. Kentucky has consistently ranked among the states with the most smokers. According to the foundation poll, 33 percent of adults responding said they were smokers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of American adults smoke.

In Kentucky, the poll found that 84 percent of people who have never smoked support the smoke-free law, and 72 percent of former smokers support a smoke-free law.

The portion of smokers who support such a law, 38 percent, has increased from 17 percent in 2010.

Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, and Rep. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, have pushed in the last two legislative sessions to pass a statewide smoke-free law. GOP Sen. Julie Denton, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, has pledged her support for the measure.

Others, including Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, have opposed the ban.

According to the foundation poll, support for restricting smoking cuts across party lines. Nearly 69 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Independents said they support such a measure.

The poll was conducted in October and November and reached a random sample of 1,551 adults. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percent.

According to the Kentucky Center for Smoke Free Policy, Lexington was one of the first places in the state to enact a smoking ban 10 years ago. Since then, according to the center, 20 counties or cities have followed suit, including Georgetown, Frankfort and Woodford County in Central Kentucky. Now about 30 percent of the state's population lives in a place with a smoking ban.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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