Ann Blackford


College: Nursing

Lexington Celebrates Smoke-free Ordinance 10th Anniversary

Published: Jul 1, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2013) − Lexington is celebrating a major historical milestone today with the 10th anniversary of the passage of the smoke-free ordinance on July 1, 2003. Lexington-Fayette County was the first local government in Kentucky to pass a smoke-free ordinance and represented the 'shot heard round the world' as few communities had smoke-free laws in the Midwest or South at the time.


An anniversary celebration, sponsored by the University of Kentucky's Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy (KCSP), was held at Applebee's Restaurant in Hamburg Pavilion with a brief news conference. Speakers included Lexington Mayor Jim Gray; Ellen Hahn, professor at the UK College of Nursing and College of Public Health and director of the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy; Mike Scanlon, former Lexington vice mayor and CEO of Thomas and King, Inc. (Applebee's franchisee); Georgetown Mayor Everette Varney; and State Representative Susan Westrom (D-79).



Lexington's law went all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court and was delayed until April 2004 when the Court ruling upheld the ordinance as reasonable. The ruling said that it was not only the right of government to protect the welfare of its citizens but also the ‘manifest duty’ to protect the public health. After the Lexington law went into effect, many other communities went smoke-free.


”It was the tireless work of health advocates and the vision of Lexington Health United that drove the push to make Lexington a healthier, smoke-free community. And the Urban-County Council had the guts to do the right thing,” Dr. David B. Stevens, former Lexington-Fayette County council member.


Lexington's ordinance, amended in November of 2008, is a 100 percent smoke-free law covering all buildings open to the public and places of employment, and includes facilities and vehicles owned or operated by the Lexington Urban County Government.


”Smoke-free Lexington was an historic moment for Kentucky given our rich pro-tobacco history and high smoking rates. Smoke-free policy changes what people expect about smoking and value about health in a community,” said Hahn.


The Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy engages in extensive research examining health and economic outcomes of smoke-free policies. Research findings include:

  • Smoke-free laws dramatically improve air quality.
  • Smoke-free laws improve workers’ health.
  • Smoke-free laws decrease emergency hospital visits for individuals with asthma.
  • Smoke-free laws are supported by the public.
  • Smoke-free laws do not hurt businesses.

“As a musician in Lexington, the smoke-free law has changed my life. I feel better and breathe a lot easier now than when we allowed smoking in bars,” said Trevor Tremaine, musician for several Lexington bands including the Hair Police.


Because the majority of Kentucky counties are rural, a significant portion of KCSP's recent research has focused on smoke-free policy change in rural areas. KCSP has found that small, rural areas are less likely than larger rural communities to be ready for smoke-free policy change or have the resources and capacity for tobacco control than larger rural communities.


The research on rural areas also suggests that:

  • Very small rural communities need to be targeted with tailored training in media advocacy and policy development, culturally sensitive technical assistance, and resources to boost their ability and confidence to provide leadership for policy change.
  • Educating and engaging the ‘movers and shakers’ in rural communities, including Board of Health members, is essential to policy change in rural communities.
  • Tobacco growing continues to play a strong role in negatively impacting policy change in Kentucky’s rural communities.


Currently, 38 Kentucky communities have enacted smoke-free ordinances or Board of Health regulations with 23 of those being comprehensive ordinances meaning that they cover all workplaces including restaurants and bars. This translates to 34.2 percent of Kentuckians being protected by comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws. This compares to 49 percent of the U.S. protected by the same types of laws.


In addition to the KCSP,  many organizations have been instrumental partners in the passage of smoke-free ordinances in Kentucky including: the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, the Kentucky Public Health Association, the American Heart Association,  the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, and Smoke-free Kentucky.


For more information on cities and counties in Kentucky with smoke-free community-wide ordinances and regulations in Kentucky, go to:


Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or

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