Report Says Smoking Ban Has Improved Air Quality

By: Amy Walker
By: Amy Walker

An eastern Kentucky county says they have proof that smoking bans improve air quality in public places.

Letcher County's smoking ban went into effect on July 1st and a new study says it only took three weeks of a smoke free environment for the air quality in eight public places to show significant improvements.

Across Letcher County, smokers are adapting to leaving the smoke at the door.

The law bans smoking in public places like restaurants and workers at the Pine Mountain Grill in Whitesburg say they can tell a difference.

"It's actually cleaner, because I have to clean table up and I don't have to deal with any ashes or anything," Tyson Collins said.

Some waiters say they used to carry a strong odor of smoke home from work in their clothing.

"You just smell like smoke, like you've been smoking a cigarette, a pack of cigarettes a day, just smell the say as a smoker does," Jason Spangler said.

But health officials say those workers were taking home more than just the smell because that smoke was also polluting the air they breathe.

The University of Kentucky tested the air quality of nine public places in Letcher County, three weeks before the ban, and three weeks after it went into effect.

"There was a 75 percent drop in the indoor air pollution as a result of the compliance," Ellen Napier said.

Only one venue violated the smoking ban. The air pollution at that place was fifteen times higher than the eight others tested.

While the results prove that customers at places like the Pine Mountain Grille are breathing better air, officials at the Center for Rural Health say there's always room from improvement.

Workers say going smoke free has not kept customers away.

"It's a better environment for the people that work here and that come in to eat," Spangler said.

Officials at the Center for Rural Health were very pleased with these quick results. They say because second hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

They say these changes could make a big difference for the health of Letcher County residents.


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