Politics & Government

Kansas joins states that ban smoking in restaurants, bars

TOPEKA — Get ready to say goodbye to smoking sections. Kansas is kicking the habit by becoming the latest state to outlaw smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces.

In a landmark move, the Kansas House on Thursday voted to send a statewide smoking ban to Gov. Mark Parkinson, who has promised to sign it into law. Parkinson, a Democrat, called the legislation “a victory for workers, families, businesses and future generations.”

Once it is signed, the ban will take effect July 1.

All restaurants, bars and workplaces would be covered by the ban, as would home day-care centers, taxicabs and limousines. The only exemptions would be tobacco shops, private clubs such as Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, designated smoking rooms in hotels, and the gambling floors of state-run casinos.

The statewide ban would not replace smoking restrictions now in place at the local level, unless those rules would be weaker than the new state standard. For example, the current ban in Kansas City, Kan. — which allows bars and restaurants to opt out by paying an annual $250 fee — would be snuffed out and replaced by the new state law.

Lawmakers who wanted a ban said they were tired of waiting and used a rare procedural move to force a vote Thursday on the measure, which passed 68-54. Supporters had pushed a statewide ban for years, successfully steering it through the Senate only to watch it languish in the House.

“While we continue to debate and debate, people are dying,” Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican and a physician, said on the House floor. “People are becoming ill. They are asking you to help them.”

More than 30 states have adopted some type of statewide smoking ban. Thirty-nine Kansas cities and counties have local bans.

Read the full story at KansasCity.com