2/3 of Kentucky adults still support a statewide smoking ban; little change in numbers from last year’s Kentucky Health Issues Poll

Since 2013, two-thirds of Kentucky adults have supported a comprehensive, statewide ban on smoking in workplaces, public buildings, offices, restaurants and bars, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

The poll, taken Sept.17 through Oct. 7, found that 66 percent of Kentucky adults favored a statewide smoking ban, the same percentage as last year; 31 percent opposed it, up 2 percentage points from last year. That difference is statistically insignificant because the polls’ error margin is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

“The data clearly show most Kentuckians support what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define as statewide comprehensive smoke-free legislation,” said Susan Zepeda, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsored the poll. “KHIP shows Kentuckians of all walks of life and varying political party affiliations continue to favor a statewide comprehensive smoke-free law.”

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have statewide smoking bans. Kentucky, which leads the nation in smoking, lung cancer and deaths from it, has scattered local bans that apply to about one-third of the state’s population.

A smoke-free workplace bill narrowly passed the state House last year, but was placed in an unfriendly Senate committee and was never brought up for consideration. Sen. Julie Raque Adams, who sponsored the Senate’s version of the bill last year, recently said on KETs “Connections with Renee Shaw” that she hoped health and business interests, including tobacco, can discuss the issue and make some progress this year.

The legislative session begins Tuesday, Jan. 5 and is scheduled to end April 12.

A smoking ban has support from solid majorities in each political party, with slightly less support from independents, whose support decreased to 58 percent from 64 percent last year. That was also statistically insignificant, since the error margin for that smaller sample is 7.1 points.

Majority support across party lines isn’t a guarantee of the law passing, because many Kentucky lawmakers and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin continue to think smoking bans should be determined locally.

Every region of the state supports a statewide smoke-free law, with the greatest support in Lexington (71 percent) and Louisville (70 percent). Both cities have local smoking bans.

Support for a statewide smoke-free law in Appalachian Kentucky was 64 percent, compared to 54 percent last year. The error margin for that smaller sample is plus or minus 5.5 percentage points, so the difference is not quite statistically significant, but enough to say that support in Appalachia probably increased.

Those who have never smoked (77 percent) or who are former smokers (69 percent) have greater support for the law compared to current smokers (43 percent); and those who consider themselves in excellent or very good health (74 percent) or good health (62 percent) have greater support for the law than those who describe themselves as having fair or poor health (58 percent).

The poll was conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati for the foundation and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. It surveyed a random sample of 1,608 Kentucky adults via landlines and cell phones.

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