To the editor,
This letter is in response to Perry Bohanon's letter to the editor published on July 6. As a Senior Community Health Educator and Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for the Jessamine County Health Department, I wish to set the record straight. Our role at the Jessamine County Health Department - which is the same role all local health departments have - is to function as an educational resource for community health issues. Health department employees are not allowed to lobby on behalf of any issue. However, the health department has played a significant and long-standing role in tobacco cessation and smoking prevention efforts in Jessamine County. The health department staff provides tobacco prevention education in the Jessamine County schools, offers year-round comprehensive tobacco cessation classes at no cost to the participants, serves on several coalitions that focus solely on tobacco related and clean indoor air issues, and maintains a comprehensive, publicly accessible database of all local restaurants' smoking policies (nearly 50 food service establishments in Jessamine County are smoke-free, by the way.) More recently, the health department received a grant from the Department for Public Health to fund a community-wide public opinion poll regarding citizens' opinions about the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure and smoke-free ordinances. The findings from this poll, which will be conducted by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center, will be turned over to the elected officials in the county to use in formulating public policy decisions on exposure to second-hand smoke.