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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Supporters of a statewide smoking ban are turning up the heat. They are counting on the star power of some major new endorsements to score a victory in Frankfort.
"Folks this isn't a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an issue that affects Kentuckians. Let's get it done," Gov. Steve Beshear told hundreds of supporters who gathered in the Capitol Rotunda.
From Gov. Beshear to Miss Kentucky, backers of the smoking ban are pulling out the stops to rally support. But clearly, the main attraction was former UK and NBA star Derek Anderson.
"It's not just about you, if you are a smoker. It's about the people that you affect," Anderson told the crowd.
The Louisville native says the issue is personal. He lost his estranged father to lung cancer in 2006. "It really hit home with me. I was just building a relationship with my dad, and to lose him that way was really tough. So, I just wanted to focus on it. When they invited me, I thought it was a great idea to come say something and try to change people's thoughts about it and try to be smoke free," said Anderson.
Supporters say this the biggest rally they've ever had. But is it enough to sway skeptical legislators?
"I'm very optimistic. I think this is a great example of it being a broad-based, grassroots issue, and I think it's time has come," said State Rep. Julie Raque Adams, a Republican from Louisville. She's a co-sponsor of HB 190, the bill which would ban smoking in public places and business.
But opponents says a statewide ban would take the issue out of the hands of local voters. "I support that local control, and I think it works very well. It's already working. Half the people in the Commonwealth now are covered by no-smoking bans," said State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, a Republican from Lebanon.
"It's not so much a debate," said Anderson. "It's more of just a space issue. We're not really trying to tell people what to do. We're just trying to work together and make sure everybody's happy."
Derek Anderson's endorsement may give the bill some momentum. But passage is still a very long way from a slam dunk.