Smoking ban on state property takes effect
11/20/2014 01:00 PM
Kentucky’s ban on tobacco and e-cigarette use on state property began Thursday, coinciding with the Great American Smokeout.
Gov. Steve Beshear announced the plan in early September, citing Kentucky’s high rates of smoking and cancer deaths. In a press release Wednesday, he noted his goal to reduce the states smoking rate, which ranks highest among adults in the U.S. and sixth highest among youths, by 10 percent by 2019.
“I am committed to reducing the exposure to unnecessary health risks in the workplace and taking the steps needed to improve the quality of life for all Kentucky citizens,” Beshear said in the release. “Smoking and breathing secondhand smoke causes disease and there is no level of exposure to secondhand smoke that is considered safe.”
Temporary signs have been posted at affected state properties since Beshear’s announcement in September, and they will be replaced with permanent signage, according to the release.
The new tobacco-free policy impacts 2,888 state facilities, which are already smoke-free indoors, with some exceptions, such as state parks, the Kentucky Horse Park, the Kentucky International Convention Center, wildlife management areas and state rest areas. Others, such as state-run residential health and vocational training facilities, will implement separate tobacco-free policies, according to the release.
Personnel Cabinet Secretary Tim Longmeyer noted that state employees who use tobacco have health care costs that average 20 percent more than those who refrain. The Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan offers tobacco cessation tools to help state workers and retirees quit, with resources available at tobacco-free.ky.gov, according to the release.
“As a former smoker, I know it is tough to quit and that the tremendous benefits of quitting are not readily apparent to a person going through nicotine withdrawal,” Longmeyer said in the release. “That’s why our priority has been to make sure employees know where to turn if they, or someone they know, would like help quitting.”
But not everyone is enamored with the new tobacco-free policy. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Monday that some state workers on smoke breaks outside the Cabinet for Health and Family Services building in Frankfort feel discriminated against because they’ll have to walk to their cars to light up.
“By the time you walk there and walk back, much of your break is gone,” state employee Andrea Schank told the newspaper.
Kentucky is the fifth state to implement a tobacco-free policy at state facilities, according to the release.
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