Kansas City, MO – A statewide smoking ban takes effect this week in Kansas.
Lawmakers approved the measure earlier this year. It prohibits smoking in public places, bars and restaurants, but exempts tobacco shops, casino gaming floors, and some private clubs.
Several cities throughout the state, including Lawrence and Overland Park, already have similar bans in place. Wyandotte County approved one about a year and a half ago. But it includes a three year transition period, and means many businesses still allow smoking.
Joe Connor directs the county's health department. He says the statewide ban beginning this Thursday trumps the county ban.
"We had another year and a half before a full ban went into effect, and it was fairly similar to the statewide ban," says Connor. "It's just that in this case, our phase-in period will end July 1st, instead of about a year and a half from now."
Connor says he hopes the more immediate change will reduce residents' exposure to second-hand smoke and help curb the county's high smoking rate. He says more than one in four residents smoke, compared to a statewide average of about one in five.
Several businesses have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statewide ban. A hearing over that is set for tomorrow morning in Shawnee County District Court. In a separate suit, sports and cigar owners in Wichita obtained a temporary injunction, forcing a delay in the ban's implementation in that city until July 15.
Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
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