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New Research Supports Smoke-Free Law

Monday, December 22, 2014

According to new research from the Tobacco-Free Northern Kentucky collaborative, a majority of Northern Kentucky voters and businesses surveyed want smoke-free laws in Kentucky. Nine in 10 Northern Kentucky residents agree that secondhand smoke harms their health. Further, air quality testing at Northern Kentucky restaurants shows that indoor air in establishments that allow smoking is at levels considered unsafe for public health.

The Tobacco-Free Northern Kentucky collaborative, with support from the Northern Kentucky Health Department and Interact for Health, conducted three separate studies regarding smoke-free air. Studies included a public opinion survey, air quality monitoring and a survey of local worksites.

“Eliminating exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke can improve our community’s health, and help us achieve our goal of reducing heart-related deaths in Northern Kentucky by 25 percent over the next decade,” said Sarah Giolando, Chief Strategy Officer of St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Interact for Health board member. “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.”

PUBLIC OPINION SURVEY

In July and August 2014 a representative sample of voters in four Northern Kentucky counties were surveyed about their opinions on smoke-free public places. Results show they know secondhand smoke is harmful to their health, and an increasing majority of those voters favor statewide smoke-free laws. Further, a majority of voters prefer to dine in smoke-free restaurants and say smoking should not be allowed at workplaces.

Key findings:

WORKSITE SURVEY

Representatives from key businesses in Northern Kentucky responded to a survey in August and September 2014. The survey looked at both policies and attitudes toward tobacco use and secondhand smoke. The research showed a majority of businesses surveyed favor a statewide law that would prohibit smoking in most public places.

Key findings

AIR QUALITY TESTING

Between August 2013 and January 2014, air quality monitoring occurred in a total of 128 restaurants and bars in Boone, Campbell and Grant Counties. It showed there is new, strong evidence that voters’ concerns about secondhand smoke are warranted: In all three counties, particulate air quality in smoke-free buildings was much healthier than those that were not smoke free; air quality in buildings that allowed smoking was worse than the EPA’s standard for outdoor air quality. Although there are other sources of particulate matter, a major source in indoor places is smoking and burning tobacco products.

In Kenton County, air quality was measured after the April 2011 implementation of the county’s smoke-free law. Monitoring found that air quality in establishments that were completely non-smoking was nearly three times lower than EPA standards for outdoor air; however, air quality in establishments that allowed smoking in certain areas or during certain times, under exemptions in the ordinance, was more than 1.5 times worse. Air quality in establishments allowing smoking everywhere at all times was the worst, at more than double the level of the EPA standards for outdoor air quality.

“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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ABOUT TOBACCO-FREE NORTHERN KENTUCKY

The Tobacco-Free Northern Kentucky Collaborative is a community coalition with representatives of Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties. Its mission is to increase awareness of secondhand smoke exposure as a health equity issue and reduce secondhand smoke exposure in Northern Kentucky.

ABOUT THE NORTHERN KENTUCKY HEALTH DEPARTMENT

The Northern Kentucky Health Department provides public health services to more than 400,000 residents of Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties, with a goal of protecting and promoting health. The Health Department seeks to be a nationwide leader in public health, and was one of the first in the county to earn public health accreditation. For more information, visit www.nkyhealth.org.

ABOUT INTERACT FOR HEALTH

Interact for Health, formerly The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, improves the health of people in the Cincinnati region by being a catalyst for health and wellness. We accomplish our mission by promoting healthy living through grants, education, and policy. Interact for Health is an independent nonprofit that serves 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. More information can be found at www.interactforhealth.org

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Media representatives should contact Emily Gresham Wherle at 859.344.5470 or Emily.Gresham-Wherle@nkyhealth.org, about any request or information before calling any other Health Department employee. Your calls and requests will be handled expediently with your deadlines in mind. Thank you for your interest and support in educating the community about public health issues.

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