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Second-hand smoke reportedly 3 times worse than average

The Jessamine County Health Department recently partnered with the University of Kentucky to conduct a study of the indoor air quality inside buildings which allow smoking and results were found to be three times worse than the average of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

During the assessment, 10 Jessamine County workplaces were evaluated, with five having voluntary smoke-free policies and five which allow smoking. The findings confirmed Jessamine County indoor air contains high levels of second-hand smoke.

“There are many factors that impact health and quality of life for our citizens. Some of these include healthcare access, behaviors, socio-economic status and physical environment. Part of our work at the Jessamine County Health Deptartment involves monitoring, evaluating and improving these factors where we can,” Health Department Director Randy Gooch said.

“One of the Jessamine County Health Department’s roles in the community is to work to address and improve health issues. One of the ways we accomplish this is to involve our citizens in the Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan which guides the development of work groups to set priorities and direction for actions that improve the health of our community.”

A cause of heart disease and cancer, second-hand smoke is the mixture of both smoke burning from the end of a lit cigarette and that exhaled by the smoker. According to reports from the surgeon general, there are no safe levels of second-hand smoke. Seventy of the chemical compounds in tobacco are known to cause cancer, with second-hand smoke being the third leading cause of preventable death in the nation.

Gooch said he anticipates work from the most recent community assessment might include the advocacy of a smoke-free policy in Jessamine County.

“We believe good health policy is good business,” Gooch said. “A smoke-free ordinance would lead to more smokers embarking on efforts to stop, reduce the number of teens who begin to smoke, protect those who cannot choose different air quality standards and most importantly improve the quality of life for all Jessamine County residents.”

Currently, 45 communities in Kentucky have enacted smoke-free laws and regulations. Some of the communities that require 100 percent indoor smoke free workspaces are Ashland, Bardstown, Berea, Bowling Green, Campbellsville, Clarkson, Corbin, Danville, Elizabethtown, Georgetown, Glasgow, Hardin County (unincorporated areas), Lexington-Fayette County, London, Louisville, Manchester, Middlesboro, Midway, Morehead, Prestonsburg, Radcliff, Richmond, Somerset, Versailles, Williamsburg, and Woodford County. With Frankfort, Leitchfield, Letcher County and Paducah having moderate 100 percent smoke-free workspaces.

“Kentucky is currently ranked 49th in the nation for adult smoking and 50th in the nation for cancer in America’s Health Rankings, so this issue goes way beyond Jessamine County,” Gooch said. “It also begs to question why this issue has not been resolved at a statewide level while a smoke-free policy has been supported by and on the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s legislative agenda for many years.”

For more information and to see a copy of the report, go to http://www.uky.edu/breathe/tobacco-policy/air-quality-monitoring