Monday, December 22, 2014

Study Says Majority of Northern Kentucky Favor Smoke-Free Law

A new survey shows the majority of people in Northern Kentucky are in favor of a state-wide smoking ban./CC

A survey recently released by the Northern Kentucky Health Department shows strong, widespread support for a state-wide ban against smoking indoors or some other smoke-free law in Kentucky.

The results of the public opinion poll were released in a news release Monday, along with new information on the health effects of secondhand smoke, gleaned by the Northern Kentucky Health Department in conjunction with the Tobacco-Free Northern Kentucky Collaborative and Interact for Health.

According to Sarah Giolando, Chief Strategy Officer for St. Elizabeth Healthcare, medical officials have set themselves a goal to reduce heart-related deaths in Northern Kentucky by 25 percent over the next decade. Eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke, she says, is critical to achieving that goal.

“It will also reduce rates of diseases that we see every day, including cancer, asthma and low birth weight babies. This new research shows that a majority of Northern Kentucky residents want to protect health by making our public places smoke-free," she said.

The public opinion poll, which surveyed a sample of voters from four Northern Kentucky counties this past summer, demonstrated a strong interest in smoke-free legislation and concern for the impact of secondhand smoke on air quality. Of those surveyed:

  • 65 percent favor a smoke-free law
  • 92 percent believe secondhand smoke is harmful to health
  • 73 percent prefer to dine in restaurants that do not allow smoking inside
  • 70 percent believe smoking should not be allowed at the workplace
  • 22 percent say they have gone to a restaurant or bar in Ohio because they are smoke-free
  • 31 percent say, if there were a smoke-free law in Kentucky, their frequency of going to Kentucky restaurants would increase

Business owners and leaders were also surveyed, and 61 percent surveyed say they would favor a state law prohibiting smoking in most public places, including public buildings, workplaces, offices, and restaurants and bars.

When it comes to air quality, between August 2013 and January 2014, air quality monitoring occurred in a total of 128 restaurants and bars in Boone, Campbell and Grant Counties. In all three counties, air quality in buildings that allowed smoking was worse than the EPA’s standard for outdoor air quality, the study found.

A similar study done in Kenton County after the implementation of their county-wide smoke-free law in 2011 found similar air quality levels. 

“Everyone in Kentucky should have the right to breathe smoke-free air,” said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health for the Health Department. “This research shows that there is support in Northern Kentucky for smoke-free policies. The public health of Kentucky is best served when everyone is protected from secondhand smoke.”

For more information on the research, including county-specific data, please visit http://www.nkyhealth.org/smokefree.aspx.

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