Gov. Steve Beshear's order expanding state government's ban on the use of tobacco products to include the grounds of executive branch offices and buildings will save taxpayers money.
Workers who can no longer step outside to feed their addictions will try to quit.
The University of Kentucky recorded a fourfold increase in quit-smoking attempts among students and employees after banning tobacco use campus-wide.
Beshear said that health care costs for the 22,000 self-reported smokers in state government's health insurance plan are about 20 percent higher than for those who report not using tobacco.
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A peer-reviewed 2013 study in the journal Tobacco Control estimates the annual cost to employers per smoking employee is $5,816 in health care spending, lower productivity, absences due to illness and time lost to smoke breaks.
So, Beshear's executive order, which takes effect Nov. 20, makes a lot of economic sense for state government and the taxpayers who foot the bill.
It also should remind us that two-thirds of Kentuckians still lack the most basic protections from secondhand smoke in the indoor spaces where they work, do business and spend their money.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher in 2006 protected most state workers by banning smoking inside executive branch offices and indoor common areas.
That essential level of protection is still denied in places where the majority of Kentuckians live and that have failed to enact local smoking bans.
Secondhand smoke sickens and kills non-smokers. No one should have to trade their health for a job. But innocent non-smokers in Kentucky are forced to make that deadly trade-off because local and state lawmakers have failed to protect them.
This year smoking will kill almost 8,000 Kentuckians and cost almost $4 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity in the state.
Poll after poll has shown that Kentuckians support a statewide ban on smoking in indoor public spaces.
Beshear has set a goal of reducing Kentucky's smoking rate by 10 percent. That will not happen until the legislature affords all Kentuckians the same basic protections from exposure to secondhand smoke that executive branch employees have enjoyed for eight years.