LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — To the editor:
A 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General stated that no amount of secondhand smoke is risk free and recommended eliminating all indoor smoking. In 2009, the London City Council passed an ordinance eliminating all indoor smoking within the city of London. This does not include public places outside of city limits. Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive smoke-free laws. At this time, unfortunately, Kentucky is not one of those states. Kentucky statistics show that only 34 percent of residents are protected by a comprehensive smoke-free law passed at the city or county level, leaving two-thirds of the state’s population unprotected.
A recent study conducted by Yale University and featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that approximately 8 million deaths have been prevented thanks to anti-smoking efforts. This study was released to mark the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Declaration that raised alarms about the dangers of smoking.
A 2012 poll from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky found that Kentucky voters support a statewide smoke-free law by a 59 percent to 38 percent margin. This means nearly 7 in 10 Kentucky adults (65 percent favored a statewide smoke-free law.
Of our bordering states, only Illinois and Ohio currently have statewide smoke-free laws. Kentucky can be a leader in protecting the health of its citizens by joining these states in passing a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law.
The Laurel County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy Board (ASAP) and the Laurel County Health Department support House Bill 193. HB 193 is currently being introduced in this legislative session and, if passed, will enact a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law.
Anne Douglas, MD