Four years ago it was generally agreed that passing a clean indoor air bill in Kansas would never happen. Then year by year with much work, education, cooperation and networking among various interest groups (including foundations and the Kansas Health Policy Authority), the Kansas Senate passed a good bill last year. However, after the bill had a hearing in a House Committee, there was no further action taken.
After the legislators adjourned last year, a group of strategic, hard working and very dedicated Kansans developed a strategy to educate House members about the harm caused by second hand smoke. Their hard work paid off as last week the House passed a clean indoor air bill that will become state law on July 1st of this year. Governor Parkinson included passage of this bill as one of his top legislative priorities for 2010. Congratulations to the legislative leaders in Kansas and volunteers, organizations and citizens who worked so hard to make this action possible.
In Missouri it appears we do not have the legislative leadership to pass a strong clean indoor air bill this year. Two good clean indoor air bills have been introduced (SB 904) by Sen. Joan Bray (D) in the Senate and (HB 1766) by Rep. Walt Bivins (R) in the House. These two bills are very comparable to the clean indoor air legislation passed in Kansas and what was recently passed by the voters of Kansas City, Mo. Thanks to Senator Matt Bartle, SB 904 will be up for a vote in his committee in the next few days, but the chances of this bill being agreed to by the legislature this year seem remote.
The research is clear… clean indoor air legislation saves lives and saves health care dollars and sales at the vast majority restaurants and bars are not adversely affected in the long run. It is legislation that should be enacted in Missouri if only we can find enough courageous legislators to stand up to the money and influence of the tobacco industry. Only twelve states do not prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants—it is time for Missouri to join the rest of the country in order to improve the health outcomes of Missourians.