Poll shows about 63% of Jessamine County residents support a statewide smoking ban

A recent poll facilitated by Asbury University‘s Psychology Department for the Jessamine County Health Department showed that about 63 percent of the county’s residents endorse a statewide law banning smoking in every workplace, and about 66 percent support a county law banning smoking in workplaces, Mike Moore reports for The Jessamine Journal.

Asbury polled Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce members, too, and found a statewide smoking ban “strongly favored” by  56.3 percent and “somewhat favored” by 16.3 percent. The poll surveyed 690 Jessamine County residents using a landline and 80 members of the chamber of commerce between September and November 2013.

Health department director Randy Gooch said his agency’s community-wide health assessment in 2013 revealed smoking as one of the top three health issues, prompting it to seek and get a grant from the state Department for Public Health to do the poll. “Because policy development is one of the most effective ways to affect a community’s health, we wanted current data to support decision-makers on any opportunities they may have to enact smoke-free policy in our county or the state,” Gooch said.
The poll indicated that while most people support the prohibition of indoor public smoking, opinions varied more when it came to bars and taverns, Moore reports. Non-smokers were typically more supportive of the bans than were smokers. Shana Peterson, the department’s health educator, said attitudes have changed since 2006, when the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center polled on the issue. “The current poll shows an approximate 10 percent increase in the number of residents who support smoke-free policy now versus the polling in 2005, which proves there is more awareness about the dangers of involuntary secondhand smoke exposure,” Peterson said.
Gooch told Moore that residents have become more aware of the effects of smoking and secondhand smoke through community education, advocacy and personal experience, and “Many folks have experienced the effects of smoke-free policy in Lexington and like the change in the environment as well as the culture, which creates a desire for this change in their own community.” An overwhelming majority in the poll said secondhand smoking is associated with adverse health conditions.
Health departments in Clark, Madison and Woodford counties have passed smoking regulations, and Gooch expressed concern for Jessamine, noting that an estimated 34 percent of adults in the county smoke, compared to the state’s 28.3 percent. “Something desperately needs to be done,” he said, noting that the poll and other resources have been sent to local governments and the county Board of Health.
Gooch said he hopes the poll will encourage the General Assembly to pass House Bill 173, which would ban smoking in most workplaces, including restaurants and bars. (Read more)
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