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Children's Advocates: A Statewide Smoke-free Law Would Be Win for Kids

Advocates call for a statewide, smoke-free law to protect Kentucky's children from secondhand smoke. (Credit: Greg Stotelmyer)
Advocates call for a statewide, smoke-free law to protect Kentucky's children from secondhand smoke. (Credit: Greg Stotelmyer)
December 10, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. - About one-third of Kentucky is covered by local smoke-free laws, prohibiting smoking indoors in public places. But what about the rest of the state?

Children's advocates are pushing for a statewide smoke-free law, claiming in a new issue brief it would be a "win" for children, including the unborn. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, says it's time to "hit the pause button on political rhetoric."

"In another aspect it's actually a budget argument," says Brooks. "Just like in so many areas, we need to be smart about return on investment. In an unexpected way, smoke-free laws actually create wins for the Kentucky state budget."

More than one out of every four Kentucky adults smoke, the second highest rate in the nation, and advocates say that has a myriad of negative impacts on kids. During the 2015 legislative session a statewide bill passed the House, but died in a Senate committee.

According to Brooks, more than 28,000 babies were born in 2013 to mothers living in Kentucky communities without protections from secondhand smoke. He says that's a danger to the mom and her unborn child.

"Whether that is low birth weight, whether that is preterm births, those kind of issues really impact the health of babies when they're born," says Brooks.

The issue brief, Clearing the Air for All Kentucky Children, also notes that many of the 77,000 Kentucky teens who work are doing so in counties without smoke-free laws.

Brooks says protecting all children from secondhand smoke would reduce health problems and improve academic achievement.

"Better for their health, it protects kids from illnesses, it reduces hospitalization," he says.

Currently, 24 states have comprehensive statewide smoke-free laws, but some Kentucky lawmakers want the decision left at the local level.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY