smoke free logoThe 2014 legislative session recently wrapped up, and all things considered, it was an excellent session for children. To name a few wins, the actions taken by our legislators and the Governor will result in fewer child deaths due to abuse and neglect, low-income parents able to work while children are cared for safely, and smart use of our juvenile justice system to get kids back on track and create safer communities.

Several significant challenges for Kentucky remain to be addressed. Chief among those for children’s health is the issue of exposure to secondhand smoke in public workplaces. Two recent journal articles underscore the need for Kentucky to take action and support Kentuckians in being able to breathe clean air as they go about daily business.

In one study published in The Lancet, the authors reviewed a number of studies to determine the overall impact of smoke-free laws on children and pregnancies. The findings show that smoke-free laws result in substantial drops in babies born too soon and in children going to the hospital. Kentucky ranks 5th highest among states in the rate of preterm births and is among the 10 states with the highest rates of children with asthma problems. This study identifies a clear path to lowering those numbers and improving kids’ health.

Another study evaluated the impact of exposure to secondhand smoke among women and the impact on pregnancy. It should give us all pause. The study found that women who never smoked but had significant exposure to secondhand smoke as children or in the work place as adults face greater risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and tubal pregnancies. While the dangers to the baby of women smoking while pregnant have been quite clear for some time, this research shows that non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke also face serious and troubling pregnancy outcomes.

This latest research adds to the depth of information we know about the impacts of secondhand smoke on Kentuckians. We also have further evidence that a smoke-free law would have a positive impact in several areas. Reducing the number of babies born too early means fewer health complications and reduced hospital costs. Fewer children going to the hospital for asthma means fewer children struggling to simply breathe. We know the solution. It’s time to let our legislators know we want them to take action to allow our children to have a healthy start in life and be able to breathe free.

Visit Smoke-Free Kentucky at to find out how you and your organization can get involved in this effort and sign on in support.