LOUISVILLE — Senate President David Williams said Friday he supports a statewide smoking ban to promote health, but two of his rivals in this year's race for governor said the issue should be decided by property owners.
Louisville businessman Phil Moffett said government has no business making decisions regarding private property and that he thinks the effects of secondhand smoke have been "overblown."
Williams countered that he does not think secondhand smoke is "a joke."
Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith, running as an independent, said property owners have the right to determine whether their facilities should allow smoking.
The comments concern a possible statewide smoking ban for all indoor workplaces and public places such as restaurants. Currently, smoking bans are decided county by county.
The issue and others came during a 90-minute forum at the winter convention of the Kentucky Press Association.
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear declined to participate. His campaign staff said he was too busy being governor and there would be plenty of time after the May primary election to debate the issues.
His office put out news releases Friday saying he was in Maysville for a federal grant announcement and in Jackson County to open a section of an improved road.
All three candidates at the KPA forum criticized Beshear for not appearing.
Williams and Moffett will face each other in the May Republican primary. The only opposition Beshear has so far in the Democratic primary is Harlan County demolition contractor Otis "Bullman" Hensley, who is running a limited campaign.
Williams said Kentucky has a chief executive "who has wasted three years of opportunity to change the commonwealth of Kentucky."
Moffett accused Beshear and Williams of being big spenders. Galbraith said that neither of the two major political parties could govern and that Kentuckians should vote for an independent.
Other issues at the forum included taxes and education.
Moffett filed his candidacy papers after the forum. Williams and Beshear filed earlier this month.