On September 11th, 2013, the Northern Kentucky District Board of Health endorsed Smoke-Free Kentucky’s initiative to prohibit smoking in all worksites. According to the NKY Health Department News Release, the NKY District Board of Health not only endorses comprehensive smoke-free laws but will also partner with Smoke-Free Kentucky on the campaign to expand areas covered by smoke-free policies in the state. Their efforts will help move the state to protect more Kentucky citizens from the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke. Dr. Lynne M. Saddler, District Director of Health stated that, “the longer a [smoke-free] law is in effect, the more likely smokers are to either reduce cigarette consumption or quit.”
Secondhand smoke compromises the health of children as well as adults. According to the Surgeon General, “smoke-free workplace policies are the only effective way to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposure.” In addition, children living in communities with comprehensive smoke-free policies are more likely to live in a voluntary smoke-free home.
According to the Surgeon General’s website, about 1 in 4 children live with at least one smoker. Secondhand smoking can cause respiratory issues, bronchitis, pneumonia, breathlessness, an increase in the frequency of ear infections, and asthma. This is troubling news because according to the KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services, there were 6,837 hospitalizations of children due to asthma attacks between 2009-2011 and about 11 percent of all Kentucky’s youth experience asthma problems.
Now is the time to pass a statewide smoke-free law in Kentucky. The health of children and workers in our state is at risk and we need to start doing what works when it comes to secondhand smoke exposure. You can have a positive impact too by asking your state legislators to pass a statewide, comprehensive smoke-free law in 2014.