Group proposes smoke-free GC

By Matt Lasley -

A group of Grayson County business and healthcare officials plan to approach the Grayson County Fiscal Court in January to request the passing of an ordinance prohibiting smoking inside local workplaces and enclosed public places.

The group, collectively known as the Population Health Committee, is encouraging supporters of a “Smoke Free Grayson County” ordinance to attend the Fiscal Court’s meeting on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 at 11 a.m. in the Judicial Center at 125 East White Oak St. in Leitchfield.

“The legislation would make it possible for people to work, eat, and shop inside public buildings without having to endure secondhand smoke,” Bill Oldham, director of Planning and Marketing at Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center (TLRMC), wrote in a recent press release.

The ordinance would not, however, affect private homes or outdoor spaces.

“A Smoke Free ordinance would not force anyone to stop smoking,” said TLRMC Chief Executive Officer and Population Health Committee Chair Wayne Meriwether. “However, everyone has the right to breathe smoke-free air at work and in public places. We hope the Grayson County Fiscal Court will take action to protect the health of all our residents.”

The Population Health Committee formed as a result of TLRMC’s 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment and consists of representatives from the hospital, local manufacturing, Grayson County Schools, the Grayson County Health Department, and the Kentucky Cancer Program. The committee meets monthly to work on health issues facing Grayson County.

According to a Population Health Committee press release, approximately 900 people die in Kentucky every year from exposure to secondhand smoke.

“Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States,” wrote Oldham in the release. “Secondhand smoke increases the risks of nonsmokers’ developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent and increases their heart disease risk by 25 to 30 percent. The risk for cancer, stroke, heart disease, and asthma can be reduced by a law that simply asks smokers to step outside.”

24 Kentucky communities—including Lexington, Louisville, Elizabethtown, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Glasgow, and Radcliff—have passed smoke-free policies that cover all workplaces and enclosed public places. Thus, about 33 percent of Kentuckians are covered by smoke-free ordinances or regulations, the release states.

A poll showed that 66 percent of Kentuckians support a comprehensive, statewide, smoke-free law, while 29 percent oppose it, according to the release.

“Most Kentuckians do not smoke, but at least 70 percent are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke in workplaces and public places,” Oldham wrote in the committee’s release. “Secondhand smoke exposure costs $10 billion in direct and indirect medical costs each year in the U.S. Smoke-free laws are a good business decision.”

The Population Health Committee is currently seeking the public’s opinions and thoughts regarding a Smoke Free Grayson County. Interested citizens can take a short, online survey at through Friday, Dec. 18 to express their thoughts on the ordinance.

The committee is also urging Smoke Free Grayson County supporters to contact their Grayson County Fiscal Court magistrate to express their opinion and request that action be taken to pass the ordinance.

By Matt Lasley

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

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