Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Bans Smoking at State Offices

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, July 11, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker
502-564-2611

Vikki Franklin
502-564-7042
 


Executive Order will take effect August 1

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher signed an executive order today to prohibit smoking in state offices and common areas occupied by the executive branch beginning Aug. 1. State government joins a growing list of Kentucky businesses, organizations and cities to enact smoking bans, following the passage of House Bill 55 by the 2006 Kentucky General Assembly.

Governor Fletcher Bans Smoking at State OfficesOfficials from the Health and Family Services and Finance and Administration Cabinets, the Kentucky League of Cities, tobacco control advocacy groups and representatives from state universities joined Governor Fletcher to show support for the ban. The move comes on the heels of HB 55, which takes effect July 12 and gives the executive branch, local governments and universities the authority to prohibit smoking in government-owned buildings across the state.

“This is an unprecedented step toward creating healthier work environments for thousands of state employees, as well as many members of the general public, who will no longer be exposed to secondhand smoke at state offices,” said Governor Fletcher. “Kentucky ranks first among the states in the rate of adults who smoke and has the second highest percentage of pregnant women who smoke. This is an important first step in combating the harmful effects of smoking.”

"I would like to thank Representative Nunn and his colleagues in the 2006 General Assembly for allowing state and local governments and universities the authority to institute restrictions on smoking at the facilities they own,” Governor Fletcher added.

Rep. Steve Nunn (R-Glasgow) said, “This bill was a collaborative effort among the Governor’s Office, the Finance Cabinet, the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties. It is an important bill for all those involved and public health in general.”

Smoke-free policies are considered crucial steps in reducing the amount of exposure to secondhand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and reducing smoking rates. In late June, the United States Surgeon General issued a report on the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, including premature disease and death in nonsmoking kids and adults.

“Smoking is a principal cause for lung disease and heart disease and has been associated with numerous types of cancer,” said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of the Department for Public Health and acting undersecretary for health for CHFS. “Our tobacco prevention and cessation program strongly advocates smoking bans on a local level. I’m glad to see state government follow in the footsteps of other entities around the state and the nation that have already taken this important step.”

According to DPH, tobacco use accounts for 7,691 deaths a year in Kentucky and 400,000 deaths nationwide. Kentucky has the highest smoking rate in the country and the second highest prevalence of pregnant women who smoke.

“In the new global world in which our communities must make their way, citizens must increasingly make the important decisions that will lead to a high quality of life, including cost efficient government for citizens — both those already there and those who are increasingly attracted to our beautiful commonwealth,” said Sylvia Lovely, CEO of the Kentucky League of Cities. “House Bill 55 provides a mechanism that enables those governments who represent the citizens of tomorrow to make these important decisions.”

Finance and Administration and CHFS will lead efforts to ensure the smoking ban is put into effect beginning Aug. 1. Additional prevention and cessation programs designed to encourage employee wellness will continue.

Since April, state employees have had access to a new smoking cessation benefit through the state health insurance plan. The benefit covers up to three months of nicotine replacement therapy for employees using the Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line or attending a Cooper/Clayton tobacco session class (offered at local health departments). State employees can learn more about this benefit at the Personnel Cabinet's Wellness Works Web site at http://personnel.ky.gov/wellness/smokecess/

For help quitting, call toll free (800)-QUITNOW or the tobacco coordinator in your local health department.


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