Topeka — A statewide ban on smoking in indoor public places, which appeared dead in recent days, was revived Monday, with many of the pleas on behalf of the bill coming from Lawrence.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved the smoking prohibition on a 9-2 vote to send the measure for a possible vote by the full Senate.
State Sen. David Wysong, R-Mission Hills, sponsor of Senate Bill 660, said the proposal may win approval of the full Senate but likely would get stopped in the House.
"I don't think it really has a good opportunity this year in the Legislature, but I believe now this will be one of the three or four top issues during the election cycle," Wysong said.
Under the proposal, smoking would be prohibited in public places such as restaurants, bars and businesses.
Exemptions were made for commercial vehicles, tobacco shops, a proposed casino in southeast Kansas, veterans and soldiers nursing homes and designated smoking areas in other adult long-term care facilities.
State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, testified in support of the bill, saying the smoking ban in Lawrence has been a success. Sales taxes collected from food services and drinking places in Lawrence have increased since the ordinance took effect in July 2004, she said.
Francisco presented testimonials from several Lawrence business owners who support the ordinance and would like to see a statewide ban.
For example, Matt Hyde, general manager of Teller's, said, "I am a smoker, but I love the smoking ban in Lawrence. Visitors to our city appreciate it, and the students have no trouble adjusting to it."
But Philip Bradley, representing the Kansas Licensed Beverage Association, said liquor sales in Lawrence have lagged behind the rest of the state since the ordinance took effect.
Dr. Roy Jensen and Dr. Karen Kelly, director and deputy director of the Kansas University Cancer Center, supported the bill, saying it would save lives of people who get cancer from second-hand smoke.
"The irrefutable scientific evidence is that second-hand smoke is not just an annoyance but is a very serious health hazard that causes premature death and disease," Jensen said.
But the Rev. Father H Setter, pastor of All Saints Catholic Church in Wichita, said a legislative ban on private businesses was arrogant, hypocritical and selfish. Setter said the bill would kill his annual dinner and cigar event that benefits charity.