News Columns & Blogs

Statewide smoking ban vs. local control

Like his predecessor, Gov. Mark Parkinson supports a statewide smoking ban in public places. He said this week that he also may push for an increase in the state's 79 cents-a-pack cigarette tax. Both moves could help lower the yearly toll that smoking-related illness takes on Kansas, including 4,000 deaths and $200 million in Medicaid costs. And the statewide public ban makes sense, given the proven health risks of secondhand smoke. But with so many communities now having their own indoor clean-air ordinances, passing a statewide ban becomes more complicated. In Wichita, for example, some businesses that chose last year to continue to allow smoking spent money to create smoking rooms with separate ventilation. Will public health trump local control?