Kentucky Business Leaders Support Smoke-Free Law to Strengthen State’s Economy

New report shows smoke-free legislation is good for Kentucky’s businesses and future workforce

FRANKFORT, KY (February 21, 2013) – Kentucky business leaders today released a report from America’s Edge showing that passage of a statewide smoke-free law will improve Kentucky companies’ bottom lines, help attract new businesses and workers, and produce a more productive current and future workforce.

According to the report, Smoke-Free Legislation Is Good for Kentucky Businesses, the ongoing costs to businesses from smoking are substantial. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking-caused direct health costs in Kentucky are $1.5 billion annually, with Kentucky businesses absorbing much of those costs. Productivity losses related to early deaths from smoking cost Kentucky businesses $2.3 billion every year.

“Tobacco use costs the state’s economy $3.8 billion in health care costs and lost productivity,” said Dave Adkisson, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “This drain on our precious financial resources is preventable, and we need to take action now.”

The America’s Edge report shows that Kentucky’s future economy is already jeopardized by the large percentage of the workforce that is already hooked on tobacco. Over 24 percent of the state’s high school students are already smoking, and 6,100 Kentucky youth start smoking each year. According to the CDC, employees who smoke cost their employers an average of $1,897 in lost productivity each year, and a national study on U.S. workforce productivity found that tobacco use was one of the greatest causes of lost worker production time – greater than alcohol consumption, family emergencies, age or education.

Fortunately, Kentucky has the power to change these potential outcomes. In states, counties, and cities across America with strong smoke-free laws, the odds that children will start smoking drop by 40 percent.

And while smoking hurts businesses’ bottom lines, smoke-free laws will not. An extensive U.S. Surgeon General’s report found no adverse impact from smoke-free laws on the hospitality industry. A study of Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky, found that “No important economic harm stemmed from the smoke-free legislation over the period studied.” Restaurant employment grew. Employment in bars stayed the same, and bar openings and closings showed no significant difference.

The report is available here.

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