Statewide smoking ban clears House committee - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Statewide smoking ban clears House committee

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FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Health advocates won the day over privacy concerns as a House committee approved a proposed statewide smoking ban.

The House Health and Welfare Committee approved the measure, with supporters saying the ban would protect people from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

"I feel confident that our argument is so scientifically sound that people can't turn their head away and say, 'We're invading lives,'" said Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, the bill's sponsor. "No. We're saving lives."

The measure would ban smoking in workplaces, including in bars and restaurants. House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Thursday that the bill would face a "close vote" in his chamber when it comes up, which could happen as early as next week.

The committee vote came after only about five minutes of testimony. Some lawmakers opposed the proposed ban, saying it would infringe on people's rights.

"I think this is too far reaching and impacts people's liberties and freedom to do something (smoke) that's still legal," said Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown.

The bill would also regulate electronic cigarettes, Westrom said.

Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, has sponsored similar legislation in the Senate. Denton testified in support of Westrom's bill Thursday, saying it wasn't about personal liberties.

"Your ability to choose ends when it infringes on my health and my life," she said.

Denton said she thought the proposal had a "better chance" this year than in the past, when it stalled in the Senate, but wasn't sure it would pass this session.

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