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Health Groups Launch Ad Campaign Calling for Smoke-Free Kentucky

January 09, 2013

LOUISVILLE, KY – Kentucky needs a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law to protect all Kentuckians from harmful secondhand smoke and reduce smoking's health and economic toll on the state, according to a newspaper and online advertising campaign launched this week by a coalition of public health organizations.

The ad contrasts things Kentucky is proud of, such as basketball and horses, with the fact it has the highest smoking and lung cancer rates in the country.

'Kentucky has a lot to be proud of, but not the fact that we have the nation's highest smoking and lung cancer rates. It's hurting our health and our economy,' the ad states.

'Each year, smoking costs us $3.8 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity, and too many people are exposed to secondhand smoke at work. That's why Kentucky health and business leaders support a statewide law to make all indoor workplaces smoke-free. We need a smoke-free law to protect all Kentuckians' health and the state's economy.'

The ad campaign is supported by the Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition includes the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and many other health, business and community partners who are dedicated to making all indoor workplaces and public places in Kentucky smoke-free.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 percent of Kentucky adults currently smoke, giving the state the highest smoking rate in the country. Nationally, 19 percent of adults smoke.

According to the National Cancer Institute, Kentucky also has the nation's highest incidence and death rates for lung cancer. Smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths.

Kentucky also lags behind other states in enacting a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law that covers all indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants. To date, 24 states and Washington, DC, have enacted such laws. Polling has found that a majority of Kentucky voters, regardless of party affiliation, support a smoke-free law that includes all workplaces, restaurants and bars.

Kentucky business leaders have argued that the state's high smoking rate and smoke-filled workplaces are undermining the state's economic competitiveness by increasing health care costs, harming workers' health and productivity, and making it harder to attract businesses.

'A comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law would be a health win and an economic win for Kentucky, and it would protect everyone's right to breathe clean air,' said Amy Barkley, chairperson of the Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. Secondhand smoke is proven to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses and is responsible for about 50,000 deaths each year in the U.S. The Surgeon General and numerous studies have also found that smoke-free laws protect health without hurting business.