Could the power of the people do more to snuff out smoking in public places?

    One leader of a Kansas community that was out in front on the issue thinks so.

    Speaking at a recent Kansas Health Institute forum, former Salina city manager Dennis Kissinger said a citizen-initiated referendum process could be used to force public votes in cities without the restrictions. State law allows citizens to petition governing bodies to adopt an ordinance or put the issue to a public vote.

    The tactic hasn’t emerged as a way to enact smoking restrictions in Kansas, although a petition drive by opponents of the smoking ban in Garden City failed to gain steam.


Could the power of the people do more to snuff out smoking in public places?
    One leader of a Kansas community that was out in front on the issue thinks so.
    Speaking at a recent Kansas Health Institute forum, former Salina city manager Dennis Kissinger said a citizen-initiated referendum process could be used to force public votes in cities without the restrictions. State law allows citizens to petition governing bodies to adopt an ordinance or put the issue to a public vote.
    The tactic hasn’t emerged as a way to enact smoking restrictions in Kansas, although a petition drive by opponents of the smoking ban in Garden City failed to gain steam.
    In 2002 Salina became the first city in Kansas to enact a significant ban on smoking in public places. Several Kansas communities followed, including Garden City, which now has one of the more stringent ordinances in the state in covering virtually all workplaces and other public places people gather. ...
    Governments have an obligation to establish policies that protect people from known health hazards. Health advocates are correct in arguing that a statewide policy allowing cities and counties to set their own restrictions would send the wrong message. After all, it’s not as if the state allows communities to tailor food safety laws any way they see fit.
    The hunch is Kansas eventually will join other states in crafting a statewide ban on smoking in public places.
    When that happens, the state should resist crafting watered-down legislation that leads to many exceptions, and instead endorse a comprehensive statewide smoking ban that mirrors what’s in Garden City in protecting all workers and others subjected to secondhand smoke, regardless of where they work or live.