Laura K. Jones Cole from the Kentucky Center for Smoke Free Policy spoke Monday night to the City Commission about the significance of the changes.
"Before the ordinance took effect, the air in many of the locations we tested was dangerously polluted," Cole said. "On average, pollution levels were four times higher than the EPA's outdoor air quality standard. If it reaches 35 (micrograms), the EPA would start shutting down factories."
Cole said Danville, which along with Lexington and Louisville was one of the first cities in Kentucky to completely outlaw smoking in all public spaces, has helped lead the way for other governments to pass similar laws.
Health Department Director Roger Trent said the impact on public health has been dramatic, particularly for the employees at the now smoke-free businesses.
"People who had an eight-hour shift were smoking the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes just from second-hand smoke everytime they went in to work," Trent said. "The negative effects of smoking in public are indisputable. People with allergies and asthma were having attacks just from walking into businesses. Now those with respiratory problems don't have to contend with the smoke, and employees are less likely to develop those problems."
Trent believes the push to eliminate smoking in the public sphere has begun to have an impact on government and personal decision making.
"The success we have seen in Danville has set a strong precedent for other communities," Trent said. "We have also seen some results among individuals who have decided it is time to quit. A lot of people we see in our smoking cessation classes say that they can't smoke where they work and in other public places so they have decided to give it up."