Effective Smoke-free Laws

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What is an effective smoke-free law?

  • An effective, or comprehensive, law protects all workers from exposure to secondhand smoke by covering all indoor workplaces and buildings open to the public.
  • No one is left out.

What are the dangers of not protecting everyone?

  • Some smoke-free policies leave workers and patrons unprotected by exempting certain businesses and specific communities, or by creating exceptions for certain tobacco products like e-cigarettes. These are called partial laws.
  • Laws that leave people or products out create confusion and enforcement challenges.
  • Partial laws create an uneven playing field for businesses and the potential for legal challenges.

“Having a partial law in Louisville was a nightmare to enforce. It caused confusion, led to lawsuits, and did not protect all workers.” – Dr. Troutman, former Director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness

Why is it essential that a smoke-free law protect everyone from secondhand smoke?

  • Smoke-free workplace laws with no exceptions are like a vaccine to prevent heart disease and cancer. A lower ‘dose’ for Kentucky will not improve population health, nor save healthcare dollars.
  • Once smoke-free laws are passed, they ‘stick’ and are rarely strengthened so it is important to pass a law protecting all workers the first time.1
  • After Georgia passed a partial law that exempted bars and private smoking rooms, the number of restaurants and bars allowing smoking nearly doubled, putting more workers in danger.2

What are the benefits of a smoke-free law that protects everyone?

  • People with lung disease living in Kentucky communities with comprehensive smoke-free policies are 22% less likely to be hospitalized for COPD than those in places with partial or no laws.
  • Those living in areas with a comprehensive smoke-free law are less likely to be hospitalized for serious heart problems than those with a partial law.


There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.5 Everyone in our community deserves to be protected!

  1. Sanders-Jackson A, Gonzalez M, Zerbe B, Song AV, Glantz SA. The pattern of indoor smoking restriction law transitions, 1970-2009: laws are sticky. Am J Public Health. Aug 2013;103(8):e44-51.
  2. Chandora RD, Whitney CF, Weaver SR, Eriksen MP. Changes in Georgia restaurant and bar smoking policies from 2006 to 2012. Prev Chronic Dis. 2015;12:E74.
  3. Hahn EJ, Rayens MK, Adkins S, Simpson N, Frazier S, Mannino DM. Fewer hospitalizations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in communities with smoke-free public policies. Am J Public Health. Jun 2014;104(6):1059-1065.
  4. Jones MR, Barnoya J, Stranges S, Losonczy L, Navas-Acien A. Cardiovascular Events Following Smoke-Free Legislations: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Current environmental health reports. Sep 1 2014;1(3):239-249.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke:  A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease and Prevention and Promotion, Office of Smoking and Health;2006.