Statewide Smoking Ban
One issue that contrasts the presumptive nominees is the issue of a statewide smoking ban. Conway favors a statewide smoking ban and says he would sign one if it passed the General Assembly. That would include any public area, including privately-owned restaurants, bars and other businesses.
“I would want to make certain it is targeted in the right way, but as a general principle, I do support a statewide smoking ban. We have the highest smoking rate in the country and it is costing us billions in health care (Democrat Conway laying low for primary, May 2015).”
Bevin opposes such a measure, saying that it should be left up to individual business owners to decide.
"I am not a fan of the concept ... although I don't smoke and I personally choose to frequent establishments that don't allow smoking," Bevin said. "And that's the way I think it should be (Bevin says he’s the man with a plan for Ky., May 2014)."
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce/Crony Capitalism
A major supporter of the smoking ban is the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. The KY Chamber of Public Affairs page has “Smoke Free Kentucky” listed under its Key Legislation section which is a pleasant euphemism for smoking ban. But why? What does a smoking ban have to do with commerce in Kentucky? According to the website Northern Kentucky has a Choice (NKYChoice), studies have shown bars in areas with a smoking ban suffer a loss of customers, and therefore revenue. As a result, employment at bars decreases. How does that benefit our businesses in Kentucky if we violate their private property rights by imposing a smoking ban on them? Unless of course they attempting to drive out competition from small, independently owned businesses that allow their patrons to smoke on their private property. According to libertarian columnist John Stossel, established businesses always try to use government to handcuff competition (Crony Capitalism Stifles Competition, May 2012).
Smoke Free Workplaces vs. Smoking Ban
It’s postulated by the healthcare nannies, such as our Kentucky Health Districts, that smoking bans are generally acknowledged to reduce rates of smoking although the research on their effectiveness has been mixed. Dictating to property owners what their patrons can and can’t do on their property is bound to have an impact on anything. Do we really have to trample private property rights of our businesses to address public health issues or is there a better way?
If the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce really wants to reduce the prevalence of smoking in the state of Kentucky why aren’t they promoting smoke-free workplaces to their membership? According to one study, totally smoke-free workplaces are associated with reductions in prevalence of smoking of 3.8% and 3.1 fewer cigarettes smoked per day continuing smoker. The combination of the effects of reduced prevalence and lower consumption per continuing smoker corresponds to a relative reduction of 29% (Effect of smoke-free workplaces on smoking behavior: systematic review, July 2002). Selling points to their membership would be a more productive workforce due to fewer sick days, lower health care costs and many health insurers offer discounts for business that provide smoke-free environments and smoking cessation programs. It makes much more business sense for them to promote smoke free workplaces than support legislation in the Kentucky General Assembly that violates private property rights.