A forum to discuss the Smoke-Free Mason County movement will be held on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.
The forum, which is hosted by the Smoke-Free Partnership of Mason County, will be held at the Refinery Church of the Nazarene on Maple Leaf Road.
The public is invited to stop by and hear comments from Dr. Anthony Weaver, a Morehead physician, regarding his thoughts on smoke-free policies, according to Ellen Cartmell, with the Smoke-Free Partnership of Mason County.
According to Cartmell, one of the reasons for the forum is to clear up miscommunication about having a smoke-free ordinance.
“There are many reasons that we wanted to bring Dr. Weaver in, but one of the main ones is that there is so much misinformation about what a smoke-free ordinance would be,” Cartmell said. “It’s not a smoking ban. We’re not telling anybody that they have to quit smoking. We’re not going to have the police arresting smokers. It’s nothing like that. However, we have learned that those are some of the things that people are concerned about. So this will be an opportunity to get the facts about what a smoke-free ordinance means, and why it is important.”
The smoke-free initiative recently conducted a survey and found that 67 percent of Mason County voters who were surveyed, were in favor of a smoking ordinance.
“We know from professional polling data that the majority of people in Mason County want the fiscal court to pass a smoke-free ordinance,” Cartmell said. “This project is to help put faces to that. We want to give those people a platform to be heard.”
Cartmell said the ordinance favored by residents would make public buildings, workplaces, bars and restaurants all smoke-free.
“This statistic is just one finding of a professional opinion poll that surveyed registered votes in Mason County in December 2017,” Cartmell said.
According to Cartmell, the survey results also found that 81 percent of voters consider second-hand smoke a health hazard as it causes nearly 50,000 deaths each year across the nation.
“Sixty-nine percent of respondents agree that a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance protects public health,” she said. “The results of the poll also show that majorities of smokers, former smokers and non-smokers all support the idea of a countywide smoke-free ordinance…with the strongest support coming from people between the ages of 18-24 and 25-34.”
Cartmell said anyone who is interested in showing support for a smoke-free ordinance can reach out to the Smoke-FreePartnership of Mason County, which is a branch of the Mason County Health Coalition.
The group has a Facebook page called the Smoke-Free Partnership of Mason County and uses the hashtag #SmokeFreeMasonCo, according to Cartmell.
Cartmell said she hopes everyone in Mason County will consider attending the forum.
“This is an event for everyone, whether you think we should have passed an ordinance like this 15 years ago like Lexington did, or whether you don’t think it’s the right thing for our community. We want everyone to join this conversation and get the facts,” she said. “Personally, I hope that people will gain a better understanding of what a smoke-free ordinance would do for our community.”
Cartmell said the partnership is also planning to try to get high school students involved.