Smoke-free partnership kicks off air quality week

By Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]

The Maysville Conference Center was the scene for a kick-off luncheon Monday for Air Quality Awareness Week.

This event was hosted by the Smoke-Free Partnership of Mason County, the Mason County Health Coalition, and the Buffalo Trace District Health Department.

Featured speakers included Mason County High School seniors Julia Dean, Hadley Faris and Kelsey Lucas, along with Amy Barkley from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The students presented findings from information they compiled which demonstrated the effects of air quality on the health of Mason Countians, particularly indoor air quality and that in the workplace.

According to one study, indoor air pollution in Mason County workplaces is 4.4 times higher than the national standard for outdoor air. Workers in Mason County are exposed to dangerous levels of fine particle air pollutions, primarily caused by second-hand smoke, the study indicates.

Communities which have smoke-free laws, such as Lexington and Georgetown, show indoor air pollution levels as much as 8.5 times lower than that in Mason County, according to the Smoke-Free Partnership of Mason County.

While going into a business such as a restaurant or a bar where smoking is allowed may be an individual’s choice, employees at those businesses often have no choice, Barkley said. Allowing smoking inside a business is an accommodation for about 25 percent of the population statewide and only 18 percent in Mason County, she said.

Studies also show that the majority of Kentuckians are in favor of a smoke-free law statewide, according to Barkley.

Visitors to an area where smoking is still allowed indoors are often surprised to learn that is the case, she said.

A smoke-free law is a “win-win” for all involved, Barkey said.

“It’s good for us, it’s good for business,” she said.

She applauded the leadership from the students and said they may hold the key to Maysville joining the more than two dozen communities in the commonwealth which have already made the decision to go smoke-free.

By Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]