Thursday afternoon’s announcement was the buzz in state-run buildings throughout Kentucky.
Governor Beshear said he hoped to create momentum for a statewide smoking ban when lawmakers return in January.
There was surprise for some, shock for others after an announcement from the Governor’s office.
Starting November 20th, tobacco use won’t only be prohibited inside state buildings–the ban spreads to the outdoors.
Right now, state employees like Denise Riffe smoke outside the doors to the State Office Building in Frankfort.
"We just come out in front of the building or anywhere around the building now,” she said.
That won’t be the case come November.
Beshear’s office called it “The Great Smokeout.” No tobacco products like cigarettes, chewing tobacco or e-cigarettes will be used in 2,888 state-owned buildings. That includes parking lots, sidewalks and green space; places where tobacco users were banished to after indoor smoking bans took effect.
"They’re taking our rights, you know, it’s like we have no say,” said another tobacco user outside the state capital.
Those rights are what organizations like the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association strive to maintain. But the governor said he wanted to make non-smokers comfortable as well.
In a statement, general manager Steve Pratt cited the association’s policy which reads:
"We support the business owner’s right to choose whether or not to allow smoking in their establishment. We also support the right of non-smokers to avoid secondhand smoke in places they must go."
Beshear also said the move hopefully encourages tobacco users to quit.
"Like I said, maybe it’s a good time to quit,” said Riffe.
The ban does not affect state parks in Kentucky.
According to the governor’s office, Kentucky is the fifth state to institute such a policy. State government is the largest single employer in Kentucky, and the tobacco-free rule will affect approximately 33,000 state workers, as well as hundreds of thousands of visitors to these state offices and properties.
There are a few exceptions to the policy:
- State Parks, the Kentucky Horse Park, Kentucky State Fairgrounds, Bluegrass Station, wildlife management areas, state rest areas, Military Affairs training centers and armories. While these facilities are currently smoke-free indoors, they will transition to tobacco-free indoors. Visitors and staff will continue to be able to use tobacco on the outdoor grounds. The outdoor areas of armories managed or operated by the Department of Military Affairs are exempt from this order only during those time periods when the facilities are rented by third parties.
- Certain state residential health facilities: Residential facilities run by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), as well as residents at the state’s three veterans centers, will also go tobacco-free, if they are not already. However, the Secretary of CHFS and the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs will be given the authority and flexibility to put in place tobacco-free plans that take into consideration the special needs of the existing residents. A fourth veterans center under construction in Radcliffe is scheduled to open in 2015 as a 100 percent tobacco-free campus, both indoors and outdoors. Residents or their families should inquire with facility administrators for further information.