Governor Orders State Buildings, Campuses to Go Tobacco-Free
Citing Kentucky’s continued worst state ranking in smoking and cancer deaths, Governor Steve Beshear announced today that all executive branch state property campuses will be tobacco-free effective November 20 – the day of the Great American Smokeout.
That means no cigarettes, tobacco products or e-cigarettes may be used in state-owned or leased buildings, in state-owned vehicles or on state property (including parking lots, sidewalks, and green space). Tobacco users will have to leave the property to smoke or use other tobacco products.
The policy impacts 2,888 state-owned buildings – making more than 26.4 million square feet newly tobacco-free. The Commonwealth also leases space in 568 other structures, and the Finance Cabinet will work with those landlords to post signs indicating the tobacco-free zones.
Kentucky is the fifth state to institute such a policy. State government is the largest single employer in Kentucky, and the tobacco-free rule will affect approximately 33,000 state workers, as well as hundreds of thousands of visitors to these state offices and properties.
A primary goal of Governor Beshear’s kyhealthnow initiative is to reduce smoking rates by 10 percent by 2019.
“Tobacco products have a deadly grip on thousands of Kentuckians. Smoking and tobacco use are the single-biggest causes of preventable illness and death in our state,” said Gov. Beshear. “This policy will protect non-smokers from the effects of secondhand smoke, and encourage tobacco users to seek help in quitting.”
Nearly 5,000 executive branch state workers report that they use tobacco, and their health care costs average 20 percent higher than those who do not report tobacco use.
“Tobacco use is the single-biggest factor in our state’s persistent poor health, causing everything from cancer to emphysema, heart disease to strokes. This administration has worked to reduce tobacco use, including raising the cigarette tax and making tobacco cessation tools available to needy Kentuckians. This policy continues those efforts,” said Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson, chair of the kyhealthnow Oversight Team. “Smokers and tobacco users know the dangers and many want to quit. We have the tools to help.”
Currently, all executive branch buildings are smoke-free inside. The Governor’s executive order transitions that policy to tobacco-free, which includes smokeless tobacco products such as dip, snuff, and chew as well as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Although e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, many contain nicotine. Vapor produced from these devices can release nicotine, chemicals and other tobacco related contaminants, which can adversely impact bystanders. Several recent studies indicate that the use of e-cigarettes increases the likelihood that the user will smoke regular cigarettes, particularly if the user is a teenager.
“State government is setting a high standard for health,” said Audrey Tayse Haynes, Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “Quitting isn’t easy, but tobacco users can get help through a number of resources we can provide – many at no cost.”
Temporary signs advising the new tobacco-free standard will be posted today on the entrances of all executive branch buildings. State workers and visitors to these facilities have more than two months to prepare for implementation of the policy. Permanent stickers will be placed on all doors on November 20, which is the day the policy takes effect. Permanent signs will also be placed in the driveways leading into major campuses of executive branch buildings declaring the campus tobacco-free.
“We commend Governor Beshear for taking this significant action, which will create a healthier environment for state employees,” said Tonya Chang, Kentucky Director of Government Relations for the American Heart Association. “Additionally, we look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly to pass a comprehensive, smoke-free law that would protect all Kentuckians from indoor exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace and public places.”
“Smoke-free Kentucky applauds the Governor’s action in protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure and in helping smokers and tobacco users quit,” said Amy Barkley, Chair of Smoke-free Kentucky. “We are hopeful that this policy will motivate the legislature to pass a comprehensive, statewide, smoke-free law that will protect the rest of Kentucky workers from secondhand smoke exposure in all other indoor workplaces.”
More information about the policy, as well as links to tools to stop tobacco use, is available at http://tobacco-free.ky.gov.
There are a few exceptions to the policy:
- State Parks, the Kentucky Horse Park, Kentucky State Fairgrounds, Bluegrass Station, wildlife management areas, state rest areas, Military Affairs training centers and armories. While these facilities are currently smoke-free indoors, they will transition to tobacco-free indoors. Visitors and staff will continue to be able to use tobacco on the outdoor grounds. The outdoor areas of armories managed or operated by the Department of Military Affairs are exempt from this order only during those time periods when the facilities are rented by third parties.
- Certain state residential health facilities: Residential facilities run by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), as well as residents at the state’s three veterans centers, will also go tobacco-free, if they are not already. However, the Secretary of CHFS and the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs will be given the authority and flexibility to put in place tobacco-free plans that take into consideration the special needs of the existing residents. A fourth veterans center under construction in Radcliffe is scheduled to open in 2015 as a 100 percent tobacco-free campus, both indoors and outdoors. Residents or their families should inquire with facility administrators for further information.
The order also encourages all state and local government facilities, public and private school districts, universities, and businesses to consider limiting use of tobacco products on their properties.
From the Office of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear
Photo: Governor's Mansion