Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Most Kentuckians now favor statewide smoking ban, poll finds

Graph shows results by smoking history, party
Just over half of Kentuckians support a statewide law that would ban smoking in most public places, including restaurants and bars, the Kentucky Health Issues Poll has found.

Just under 53 percent said they were in favor of such a law, and another 1 percent said they lean toward favoring it. Only 40.5 percent opposed the idea, with 2 percent leaning against it. Four percent had no opinion.

Including leaners, the law was favored by 53.7 percent to 42.5 percent, a double-digit margin. Last year, Kentuckians were split down the middle, 48 percent to 48 percent. The poll's error margin is plus or minus 2.44 percentage points, meaning that each figure could vary that much from actual public opinion in 19 of 20 cases. It could vary more in one out of 20.

The poll was released yesterday by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. It asked 1,614 Kentuckians, "Would you favor or oppose a state law in Kentucky that would prohibit smoking in most public places, including workplaces, public buildings, offices, restaurants and bars?" The detailed results were: 40.9 percent favored strongly, 11.8 percent favored somewhat, 11.5 percent opposed somewhat and 29 percent opposed strongly.

Despite those strong views, there was again no split along party lines; 55 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of Republicans were supportive of a ban and independents were slightly less so. As was the case last year, respondents who are registered to vote were more likely to support a smoke-free law, with six in 10 in favor.

Respondents in the Lexington area showed the strongest level of support, with nearly 57 percent of people living there either strongly or somewhat in favor of passing a statewide ban.

Interestingly, respondents living in Appalachian Kentucky — which historically has very high smoking rates — also expressed strong support, with 53.4 percent in favor, plus or minus 4.96 percentage points. (The poll groups counties by area development districts; Appalachian Kentucky was defined as counties in ADDs that are mainly Appalachian, in green on the map.)

Despite Campbell County overturning its smoking ban earlier this year and controversy surrounding the ban in Kenton County, which is the only county in the region with a ban, respondents in Northern Kentucky showed the third highest level of support for a statewide law, with 52.9 percent in favor. The error margin for that small sample of 152 was plus or minus 7.95 percentage points.

In Louisville, 52.4 percent favored the law, plus or minus 5.26 percentage points. Western Kentucky had the lowest level of support, with 49.5 percent in favor and 47.1 percent opposed, plus or minus 4.63 percentage points. The poll included the Lincoln Trail Area Development District, generally recognized as part of the Louisville region, as part of Western Kentucky.

The issue is most strongly supported by non-smokers. Of respondents who have never smoked, 3 in 4 are in favor of a smoke-free law. Fifty-seven percent of respondents who are former smokers were in favor. When it came to smokers, just 3 in 10 support a law. For tables showing the detailed poll results, click here.

The poll, which was funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, was conducted Sept. 27 to Oct. 27 by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,614 adults across Kentucky were interviewed, including 1,313 landline interviews and 308 cell-phone interviews. For more from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, click here.

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