TOPEKA - As state health officials advocated a statewide smoking ban this week, some opponents pointed to Wichita.
The city adopted a partial ban in September, prohibiting smoking in businesses that allow children. Bars that don't admit children can still allow smoking. Smoking also is allowed in restaurants that have an enclosed smoking room with a separate ventilation system.
The partial ban, said Wichita bar owner Larry Doss, is preferable to a complete ban. The Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association and the Kansas Licensed Beverage Association also testified against the bill and advocated an alternative that looks more like Wichita's plan.
"The decisions I make are in response to my customers, because they vote with their pocketbooks," Doss, who owns Walt's Sports Bar and Grill, told the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Thursday. He chose to allow smoking when Wichita's partial ban went into effect.
But health advocates -- who also proposed increasing the tax on cigarettes by 75 cents to $1.54 a pack -- say a complete ban is needed in public places for health reasons. It's the top policy goal for health officials this year.
"It's no-cost health care reform for Kansas," said Mary Jayne Hellebust, executive director of Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition. She estimated the state has paid $200 million a year through Medicaid for tobacco related illnesses.
Read the complete story at kansas.com