The report showed two key findings:
• Jessamine County levels of indoor air pollution from secondhand smoke were approximately 7.4 times higher than Lexington post-law (after its smoking ban was put into place) and 14.9 times higher than Louisville after implementation of its comprehensive law. In addition, the level of indoor air pollution in Jessamine County hospitality venues was 3.8 times higher than the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for outdoor air.
• Air pollution in 10 of the 16 venues exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality standard for outdoor air.
During the study, researchers used the SidePak, which measured the fine particulate matter. Fine particulates is what comes out of the burning end of a cigarette and cannot be detected by the naked eye.
“It’s the very small particles you can’t see or smell,” Hahn said. “We know they’re hazardous and they get stuck in your lungs. You can’t see them without the use of an electron microscope.”
Smoke-free ordinance discussions
The results of the research comes on the heels of the three governing bodies in Jessamine County — the cities of Nicholasville and Wilmore and the Jessamine County Fiscal Court — discussing a proposed smoke-free ordinance at a recent joint meeting.
“This (study’s results) is a wake-up call for Jessamine County officials to do the right thing,” Hahn said.
The current ordinance being mulled over by the governments allows for exceptions, but Karen Butler, assistant professor with the UK College of Nursing, and Susanna Moberly, grassroots coordinator with Smoke-free Jessamine Coalition said a watered-down ordinance won’t do much good.
“We, as a smoke-free coalition, do not readily support the ordinance they have (been discussing),” Moberly said.
“Smoke-free laws create a healthy workplace, not only for the people who work there, but also for those of us who are patrons,” she said. “It’s simply a public health issue. Working an eight-hour shift in a smoky workplace is almost the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. If we make exceptions to a smoke-free law, we’re not covering everyone.”
According to the study, Louisville originally passed a smoke-free law with exceptions to certain types of businesses. The air quality numbers in those businesses deteriorated, and that city eventually went 100 percent smoke-free, and the numbers improved greatly.
Butler said any smoke-free law must be “comprehensive” or 100 percent.
“That’s the gold standard,” she said. “That’s what all of my colleagues around the country and the public health community support; the surgeon general, actually, in the 2006 report, came out and said that there’s no way to clear the indoor space of secondhand smoke.”
Moberly urged Jessamine County residents to contact elected leaders to make the ban 100 percent.
“We hope the citizens of Jessamine County would come together and call on their government leaders and request that they revisit this proposed ordinance and make it a 100-percent smoke-free workplace ordinance so that all Jessamine County citizens will be protected.”
For more information, visit www.smokefreejessamine.org.