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Letter: Making Kentucky a smoke-free state

Publication Date: 7/23/2013
  • Author:Dr. Ellen Hahn
  • Publication:Louisville Courier-Journal

Ten years ago on July 1, 11 brave Lexington Fayette Urban County Council members voted to support Kentucky's first smoke-free ordinance. This historic vote has been called the "shot heard 'round the world" since smoke-free legislation was virtually unheard of in the South and Midwest at that time.

On this important 10-year anniversary, we celebrate lives saved and made better by Lexington's historic law. Smoke-free has worked in Lexington; it has had both positive health and economic benefits. It has also worked in 37 other Kentucky communities including Louisville, countering the criticisms that such measures would hurt businesses and local economies.

In fact, such measures don't do anything of the sort. The health benefits of tobacco-free laws are indisputable. And there is a strong body of evidence to suggest that there are economic benefits as well.

It is time that all Kentuckians expect and enjoy smoke-free workplaces statewide.

The health and economic costs of inaction are simply too high.

Today, Lexington, Louisville and other smoke-free communities are safer, healthier places to work and visit. Indoor air quality has improved dramatically. Workers report fewer breathing problems and are less at risk for heart disease and cancer leading to early, painful death. Fewer people smoke cigarettes (down in Lexington 32 percent since the law took effect), and fewer individuals with asthma end up at the emergency room. Ask the many musicians who worked in Lexington's smoky venues 10 years ago and they will tell you how the law has changed their lives for the better...