By Tara Hannon and Greg Bolden
The citizens of Fayette County have an amazing opportunity to be a part of enacting positive, lasting change in our community through partnering with Breathe Easy Fayette to ensure the right of every member of our community to breathe smoke-free air is protected. While most people are aware of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, the current smoke-free policies in Fayette County are limited in scope when compared to the comprehensive policies enacted by other municipalities in Georgia, as well as those across 28 additional states, that prohibit smoking in businesses including restaurants, bars and outdoor areas in close proximity.
Known as one of the most desirable places to live in the state of Georgia, Fayette County stands out as a leader in many of the categories used to gauge overall success and well-being and as such, we should always seek ways to lead and ensure we not only meet but work to exceed the high-quality standards that are most admired by surrounding communities. Implementing a clean indoor air ordinance that supplements existing smoke-free policies provides an opportunity to further distinguish Fayette County as a quality-of-life leader in Georgia.
The number of comprehensive smoke-free policies enacted in the U.S. has been on a steady increase over the past twenty years, growing from covering less than 5% of the population in 2000 to over 60% in 2022. The dramatic shift in policies has been the result of increased awareness amongst the general public pertaining to the harms of secondhand smoke and has been followed by consistent and compelling evidence demonstrating a significant improvement in relevant categories used to gauge overall public health. According to a 2016 report from The National Cancer Institute, the World Health Organization conducted an extensive review of empirical data across multiple countries specific to tobacco control policies and found that “Abundant evidence conclusively demonstrates that the implementation of comprehensive smoke-free policies improves the public’s health.”
While we can all agree that protecting people from the harms of secondhand smoke including vaping is a worthy cause to pursue, implementing a comprehensive clean indoor air ordinance goes far beyond simply protecting the health of non-smokers. According to the tobaccofreekids.org fact sheet on comprehensive smoke-free laws, these policies “not only protect Americans from the thousands of chemicals in secondhand smoke, they also create an environment that discourages smoking among kids and encourages smokers to quit”. With smoking rates remaining steady over the past few years and vaping rates on the rise, especially amongst youth, enacting a clean indoor air ordinance represents an opportunity for Fayette County to do just that by further improving the quality of life for our citizens and those who visit our community.
Fayette is an amazing place to call home and by choosing to stand together as a community that is committed to ensuring the policies we prioritize align with the high value we place on improving the overall health of our community, we will all reap the benefits that come from our collective efforts to protect the health of all those who live, work, shop and play in Fayette County!
Tara Hannon is a Master Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Relationship Consultant.
Greg Bolden is the Community Initiative Program Manager at Center for Black Health and Equity. Both are members of the Breathe Easy Fayette Alliance.
Breathe Easy Fayette is an alliance that includes Drug Free Fayette, Fayette FACTOR, Piedmont Fayette Hospital, Georgia Department of Public Health, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the Center for Black Health and Equity, and several additional organizations that are based in Fayette County. For more information, and to support a smokefree environment, visit www.DrugFreeFayette.org/breathe-easy-fayette. You can also send an email to DrugFreeFayette@FayetteFACTOR.org or call 678-489-3279.