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KRCS Helps Put Smoking Ban Over the Top

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March 9, 2010

The Kansas Respiratory Care Society (KRCS) holds a legislative day at the state capitol building in Topeka every year, but this year’s event was especially memorable.

The session took place on Wednesday, Feb. 24. On Thursday, Feb. 25, the legislature passed a bill calling for a statewide smoking ban.

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Sen. Jim Barnett, second from the left, poses with KRCS members, from left to right, Karen Schell, Debbie Fox, Pat Patterson, and Ed Anderson. Sen. Barnett, a physician at Schell's hospital, introduced the smoke free legislation into the Kansas legislature last year.

“It was just a coincidence that the final vote on the bill was scheduled for the day after our annual legislative day that had been scheduled since January,” says KRCS Legislative Chair Debbie Fox, RRT. But she and her colleagues lost no time making the most of it.” We took the opportunity to ask specifically for them to vote yes for this bill.”

That final push, however, was just the last of many made by the state society in support of the legislation. Fox says the KRCS provided written testimony when the bill was first introduced and worked with other groups in the state who did the major legwork, including Tobacco Free Kids, the American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society.

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The KRCS display helped draw attention to respiratory issues.

“We have lobbied for the statewide smoking ban and a cigarette tax increase for several years,” says KRCS Treasurer Aubrey Patterson, RRT. “We argued that a smoking ban was a public health issue and cited studies showing decreases in heart attacks, and fewer people taking up smoking in states where bans existed. We also cited polls that showed 71% of the population in Kansas supported a comprehensive smoking ban.”

“Getting this bill passed was the culmination of years of work by many groups and individuals,” says Fox. “I think KRCS added our voice to the process.”