Daily Archives: May 4, 2012

House kicks bill allowing smoking in bars to committee, likely killing it for the year

TOPEKA — House members vote 62-49 today to send a bill that would have allowed smoking in bars statewide back to a committee for more debate.

The move came with little discussion after Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, suggested the Senate is unlikely to approve the move and that an amendment to ban smoking on the floors of state-owned casinos could get tacked onto the bill and open a wider debate on gambling.

Bringing casino smoking into the discussion could have opened the door for amendments, such as a plan to trim the investment threshold needed to open a casino in southeast Kansas and a move to let Sedgwick County voters vote again on whether to allow slot machines at Wichita Greyhound Park.

The bill would allow smoking in bars and other businesses that only employ and admit people who are at least 21 years old.

But Senate leaders today said they think the idea is poor public policy, and they noted that a University of Kansas health expert said it would be a step backward for Kansas, which approved its statewide smoking ban in 2010.

Businesses would have to post signs to notify people of the age restriction and the number for a hotline to help people quit smoking.

The bill had support from some business owners and the Kansas Licensed Beverage Association. But it has been decried by the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, the Kansas Public Health Association, Tobacco Free Wichita and several doctors.

Studies show secondhand smoke can aggravate cardiovascular ailments, asthma and cause other health problems for nonsmokers.