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Kan. Senate Committee Considers Statewide Smoking Ban

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Topeka, KS – Opponents and supporters of a proposed statewide smoking ban are converging on the Kansas capitol this week.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee is holding its first hearings of the 2009 session on a bill that would ban smoking throughout the state. Republican David Wysong of Mission Hills introduced the bill. He says with the state anticipating a billion dollar deficit, now's a good time to move forward on legislation that could significantly lower state health costs.

Wysong: "200 million dollars every year is spent in tax dollars towards Medicaid payments for tobacco related diseases in Kansas. That's a lot of money."

The current version of the bill includes a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, and casinos, but it exempts tobacco shops and a certain percentage of hospital hotel rooms. The health committee is taking testimony from supporters of the ban on Tuesday and opponents on Wednesday. Wysong says he expects some version of the bill to move out of committee by the end of the week.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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