WAVE 3 News Guest Editorial - March 6, 2014: Tobacco exposure - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

WAVE 3 News Guest Editorial - March 6, 2014: Tobacco exposure

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Stephanie Mayfield, M.D., Commissioner of the Department for Public Health Stephanie Mayfield, M.D., Commissioner of the Department for Public Health

By Stephanie Mayfield, M.D.
Commissioner of the Department for Public Health

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The single largest negative impact on our collective health today is tobacco smoke exposure, of which Kentucky leads the nation.

We have the highest exposure rate to secondhand smoke of all states. Not surprising, given we have the greatest number of tobacco smokers as well, at 28.3 percent of adults, versus 18 percent nationally. Research shows that exposure to tobacco smoke not only causes cancer, but can undo the benefits of chemotherapy and help tumors grow. We rank first in deaths from cancer. If nobody smoked, one out of every three cancer deaths in our country would not occur.

I encourage all Kentuckians to follow the U.S. Surgeon General's advice to protect ourselves and our families:

  • Don't allow smoking in your home. Even short durations of exposure are not without risks. Smoking at an open door or window is not adequate protection from secondhand smoke.
  • Don't permit smoking in your car.
  • Inquire about tobacco-free policies in schools and day cares.
  • Seek out restaurants and hotels that do not allow any smoking. Establishments with only non-smoking sections are not proven to be adequate protection from secondhand smoke.
  • Be a role model for children and don't smoke. Most tobacco smokers try their first cigarette before they reach 18.

Although nicotine is addictive, you can beat it and you're more likely to be successful if you seek help. Call us at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. If you are without health insurance, apply through kynect.ky.gov to find affordable health insurance that will assist with paying for health coverage and smoking cessation therapies.

We should pass a comprehensive, secondhand tobacco smoke-free law.
Let's breathe easier, Kentucky. The time to end this preventable health crisis is now.

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