“IF A JUMBO JET crashed every eight hours for a year, and everyone on board was killed, it would equal about 400,000 deaths (about the number of deaths documented each year from the effects of smoking). Wouldn’t we do something to stop that kind of insane loss of life?” asks Dr. Shawn Jones of Paducah.
In fact, he did.
Dr. Jones began collecting data and information about a ban on smoking in public places in the summer of 2004 after Lexington, Kentucky passed an ordinance, which survived a Supreme Court ruling that same year. “I felt that decision really made it feasible for smaller cities to consider a restrictive ordinance without having to worry as much about litigation,” Dr. Jones remembers. “I created a public education campaign regarding the effects of second-hand smoke and initiated a push for an ordinance to ban smoking in public places. The local newspaper broke the story in January when they discovered we were asking community leaders and organizations to support the effort and word got out prior to our approaching the City Commission directly.”
The Commission appointed a task force the summer of 2005 and adopted the ordinance in September 2006. The regulation went into effect in April 2007.
Dr. Jones was personally motivated to take on this controversial project by means of the intimate association he has daily with the health effects of smoking. He says coming to grips with the statistics was compelling.
“I felt our culture, with respect to the acceptance of tobacco use, needed to change. Thankfully, with a host of organization support from the American Cancer Society, the Kentucky Medical Association, the American Medical Association and a lot of concerned individuals, it is starting to change for the better,” he adds. “The protection of children, workers and those with airway or pulmonary disease is ethical and humane.”
Does Dr. Jones see more clean air in the future? “Illinois and Tennessee are now smoke-free, so there is really no reason not to help lead Kentucky toward the ultimate goal of a statewide law,” Dr. Jones suggests.