I moved to Kentucky over a year ago from Portland, Oregon. Regularly, people ask me what I notice are the biggest differences. I have observed two major things... how overweight people are and how many people smoke. I have been exposed to more secondhand smoke than I have in my life. When I lived in Louisville this past year (I now reside in Morehead, KY), I used to run downtown 2-3 times a week to the waterfront. I was exposed to the smoke from people walking on sidewalks and from people sitting outside of restaurants. Therefore, moving to Kentucky has possibly been harmful to my health. Does Kentucky want to thrive? Does Kentucky want young, smart successful adults choosing to move here? Does Kentucky want businesses to relocate here? If so, create healthy environments.
Harmonious messages. It's more important than you think. In schools we try to send healthy, consistent messages to our students and staff. Why shouldn't our government do the same? If we want our communities to thrive, let's set them up to do so. Creating, supporting and passing policies that protect those that don't have a choice and don't have access to the healthier choice is the right thing to do. Senator Ralph Alvarado's quote is the title of this blog post from an Op Ed piece he authored in today's Lexington Herald-Leader. He's an advocate for passing the statewide smoking ban in Kentucky and I applaud this conservative Republican for stepping up and doing the right thing for the Commonwealth. For you, for me.
Passing policy ensures long-lasting systems change. Remember when people could smoke in airplanes and in school lounges? It took a long time to eliminate those behaviors. It takes time, but at this point, our establishments should be smoke-free. I consciously have made decisions NOT to eat, attend, play in places that have smoking, but not all people have that choice, including our youth.
Senate President, Senator Robert Stivers II, is an proponent of putting resources in cancer research, dislikes smoking, has allergies, yet continues to oppose a statewide smoking ban. Apparently, he believes everyone has the right to choose where they eat, play, live and work. He's out of touch. I taught 7th grade for many years before working nationally as a school health advocate. My former students didn't choose to be homeless, or hungry or live with parents who smoked.
If you live in Kentucky, call your legislators at 1-800-372-7181. Write a blog, Tweet, post on Facebook. Advocate so all Kentuckians have places to flourish, be healthy and safe!