The Kentucky Department for Public Health is launching a new campaign to educate Kentuckians about the dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke and its potential effect. The campaign is funded by $281,000 from the economic stimulus package of 2009 and about $90,000 from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This week the department will start running television, billboard and radio advertisements to show the dangers of smoke that comes from the burning end of cigarette, cigar or pipe or the exhaled smoke from a smoker. The ads, which will run statewide, highlight the link between secondhand smoke and dangerous illnesses in both adults and children.
The ads, produced by Louisville-based Doe-Anderson, feature people being unwillingly exposed to secondhand smoke in places such as residences and cars. Each ad carries the tag line, “Secondhand smoke is 100 percent unsafe, 100 percent of the time.”
Kentucky’s smoking rate remains the second highest in the country, with 24.8 percent of the adult population identified as current smokers, and secondhand smoke exposure is equally high. The health department says 39.5 percent of Kentucky children live with someone who smokes – the highest percentage in the country. Secondhand smoke has become a major public health concern because it contains approximately 4,000 chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens, and is responsible for approximately 3,000 cases of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers each year.
The campaign is another project of the Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation program. Community interventions for tobacco cessation are available through local health departments staffed with tobacco control specialists, and the program operates a toll-free telephone line, 1-800-QUIT NOW. It also provides technical assistance, with the Kentucky Center for Smoke Free Policy at the University of Kentucky, to assist communities in seeking smoke-free ordinances.