Archive for Monday, February 16, 2009

Senate gives tentative OK to statewide smoking ban

February 16, 2009, 8:31 a.m. Updated February 16, 2009, 11:02 p.m.


— A bill banning smoking in most public places in Kansas received first-round approval Monday night in the Senate after members rewrote it to exempt private clubs and gambling areas in casinos.

This is the third year the Senate has dealt with the issue. If the bill passes Tuesday as expected by the Senate leadership, it will go to the House, where many members feel it's an issue best left to local governments to decide.

"It's a partial victory. We didn't protect all Kansans, and that was my goal," said Sen. David Wysong, a Mission Republican who has been leading the fight for a statewide smoking ban.

As amended during nearly four hours of Senate debate, the bill prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants, workplaces and government buildings, and within 10 feet of any doorway, open window or air intake of any place where smoking is banned.

Exemptions include private homes, personal vehicles, tobacco shops, hotels where smoking is banned in 80 percent of the rooms, and adult care homes and long-term care facilities with designated smoking areas.

Amendments added during the debate also exempt any private club that existed on Jan. 1 of this year, and the gambling areas of any state-owned casinos — none of which have yet to be built.

Local governments still could enact more stringent restrictions.

At least 23 states require most public places and workplaces to be smoke-free.

In Kansas, state health officials say clean indoor air regulations have already been adopted by at least 25 city and county governments, covering about 28 percent of the state's population.

Senate proponents focused mainly on health issues, including the dangers of secondhand smoke. Opponents said the measure would hurt businesses.

Wysong said studies show the state would save $20 million in Medicaid costs annually after the first year the smoking ban is in effect.

"We have concerns about public health and welfare and the budget, and this advances both," said Republican Sen. Jim Barnett, who is a physician from Emporia. "The risks are real and the science is sound."

Barnett said 4,000 Kansans die each year from smoking-related illnesses and about 300 of those deaths are from secondhand smoke.

Another physician, Republican Sen. Roger Reitz of Manhattan, said of smokers, "These people have their finger on a self-destruct button and they keep it there. Tobaccoism is a very serious disease and very addictive."

Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, an Independence Republican, offered the amendment to exempt private clubs. Wysong called it a "loophole to avoid the law."

"This doesn't open a loophole because there's nothing to drive through," Schmidt responded, noting it applies only to the estimated 450 private clubs that existed as of Jan. 1.

Sen. Kelly Kultala, a Kansas City Democrat, amended the bill to exempt the gambling areas of state-owned casinos and race tracks with slot machines, but not without opposition.

"If we are going to get serious, we can't let amendments like this go on," said Sen. Tim Owens, an Overland Park Republican. "It's a minority of the community. ... It's the tail wagging the dog."

Kultala said a planned state-owned casino in Wyandotte County would be a major economic development project. Wyandotte County is one of four areas where a 2007 law allows for a state-owned casino, although a partnership of Kansas Speedway and Baltimore-based Cordish Co. withdrew its application to build and operate a casino there last year, citing the economy.

Sen. Mark Taddiken, a Clifton Republican, said he feared the smoking ban would force many restaurants in rural Kansas to close. But he failed to get the bill changed to allow separate smoking and nonsmoking areas for restaurants.

Opposing Taddiken's effort was Sen. Janis Lee, a Kensington Democrat.

"Rural Kansas has the same right to the same quality of health as urban Kansas," Lee said.


OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 11 months ago

The problem is best summed up by a bumper sticker I saw: "If you don't like my smoking, don't breathe." Which is the alternative presented to us non-smokers - just stop enjoying our right to breathe.

deskboy04 8 years, 11 months ago

So, why do we need the state to do this? Why can't local governments do it? I guess that the state senate doesn't have much to do since the economy is doing so well.

flux 8 years, 11 months ago

Pretty soon they will regulate what you do in you own home.

skinny 8 years, 11 months ago

We went to the Topeka Steak House Saturday and after spending the last couple years enjoying the smoke free environment here in Lawrence it was a shock. Man, it was nasty to have to sit there and eat with the smell of cigarette smoke all around. So I agree, it is about time the state of Kansas steps in and does something about it knowing the dangers involved with second hand smoke.

Left_handed 8 years, 11 months ago


If you don't like the atmosphere, take your business elsewhere. That's what freedom of choice, an American value, is all about.

SherryW 8 years, 11 months ago

Why don't we worry about what people on food stamps are using goverment programs to buy pop and chips. I was at the store yesterday and a person was buying 8 Name brand cases of pop on a vision card(food stamps). Should'nt they have some kind of guidelines on what they can buy. Due to health reasons

Chris Ogle 8 years, 11 months ago

I smoke! We smokers help fund the vision cards. I knew that (someday) Kansas would lower my taxes. Just didn't expect it to be this way.

skinny 8 years, 11 months ago


When people don’t take notice of one’s rights to breath clean air then the state steps in and makes you take notice. That's the nice thing about state laws, I won't have to take my business elsewhere. You'll have to take your smoking elsewhere!

Manhattan just enacted a city wide smoking ban in any business and now it is time the rest of the state gets with the program!

Confrontation 8 years, 11 months ago

It would be great if this actually passed. Of course, we're so used to backwards policies here in Kansas. We might all have heart attacks if the lawmakers did something right for a change.

Shelley Bock 8 years, 11 months ago

How can we possibly believe anything "No night games" Marion has to say? He tells people he is all knowing, then he can't read a simple court document. When his error is pointed out, he hides. So much for any weight to his attack on liberals.

igby 8 years, 11 months ago

These hooka smokers do put a little "extra" under the tinfoil. Just bring your own.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 11 months ago

marioni, you been going uptown wearing your black hat lately?

anaughtymouse 8 years, 11 months ago

Clearly cigarettes are bad for you, this is not the argument. The argument is whether or not government can regulate the practices of private business in this regard. Private business can refuse service to anyone, and should allow smoking if it chooses. This is not to argue that smoking won’t kill you (it will) but rather the limit government should have on private business.

any 8 years, 11 months ago

If I recall, the issue for Lawrence wasn't directed towards the customer, but the employee. Especially in these times people are going to take any job they can get. Why should their health be subjected to the smoke of others? The customers seeking non-smoking establishments are extra beneficiaries of protecting employee health.

Shelley Bock 8 years, 11 months ago

anaughtymouse states..."Private business can refuse service to anyone, and should allow smoking if it chooses."

Not really.

If the denial of service has the affect of banning a protected status such as race, gender, age, religion, etc., then it maybe discriminatory and a violation of municipal, state and federal law.

If someone has a communicable disease such as tuberculosis goes into the public realm, especially some place which is enclosed, do others have any right to request their removal? Are there not provisions based on public heath concerns for the quarantine of individuals who can spread a virulent pathogen? Hasn't it been proven that cigarette smoke is carcinogenic and potentially as deadly as many diseases?

screamineaglesid 8 years, 11 months ago


skinny 8 years, 11 months ago


I'd be ok with that if when you get lung cancer we (the government) are not responsible for any of your medical bills!

screamineaglesid 8 years, 11 months ago

skinny. the last time your govener raised taxes on tobacc it was supposedly for healthcare so i guess all smokers are already paying for it!!

Flap Doodle 8 years, 11 months ago

Taunting loggy isn't entertaining any more. He's stuck in vein-popping hissy fit mode.

screamineaglesid 8 years, 11 months ago

loggy is a little foggy he fails to realise once pot is legal the government will tax it to a point that he cant afford it and if he grows his own now they already want you to pay taxes on it!!! hence the tax stamp that they say you need so that you can sell it!!!

uncleandyt 8 years, 11 months ago

I just finished another stinking, poisonous cigarette. I have settled for stupidity. Dear State, do you have any friends or contacts in the Tobacco Industry that you can talk to about identifying and solving the Smoking Problems ? The smoking ban in Lawrence has not made cigarettes less addictive or less toxic. Maybe I will quit, new fools will start. Sending us outside is not the solution. Tobacco companies must re-tool.

sourpuss 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm all for smoking bans in public places. I don't care what people do in their homes, but I don't want to breathe that stuff. Up here in Ontario, it is actually illegal to smoke in a car with a child. Of course, a twenty-year-old was just given a $100+ ticket for smoking in a car with a 15 year old, who lit up herself as the ticket was being written.

My parents smoked around me, indoors, until I was about 12. I got cancer at 32. I can't say the smoking caused it, but I guess I would have preferred it if I hadn't been exposed to that sort of thing for so long at so early an age. Smoke if you like but take it outside for your kids' sakes, please. Everyone deserves a chance at a healthy life.

screamineaglesid 8 years, 11 months ago

i will gladly go outside if you can promise i dont have to smell diesel fumes or pollutants from the factorys besides it is all about the money the city doesnt care if you pollute the air as long as you pay your taxes if you think i am kidding go take a whiff of allen press but when their fumes start to make your eyes burn and your throat sore you will begin to understand!!!

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