Kentucky Chamber Director of Public Affairs, Ashli Watts, appeared on KET’s new program, Health 360, hosted by Renee Shaw, to discuss the Chamber’s support of smoke-free workplaces.
The Chamber has been a long supporter of a statewide smoke-free law. There is strong support from the state’s business community to see a statewide smoke-free workplace law adopted. In a recent survey to our membership, over 92% say they favor a statewide smoke free law.
In the interview, Watts detailed not only the health effects smoking has on Kentucky, but also the economic implications. Employers are not only dealing with higher health care costs for employees who smoke and are exposed to secondhand smoke, but also experiencing significantly higher rates of absenteeism. Watts stated the business community realizes that smoking not only effects insurance premiums but also tax bills.
With 28% of Kentuckians still smoking – the highest rate in the country – the Centers for Disease Control has estimated smoking-related health expenditures cost Kentucky more than $1.9 billion annually ($589.8 million of which is covered by state Medicaid), and the smoking-related productivity loss at more than $2.79 billion.
Watts said the Chamber feels that passing a smoke-free law is the most significant thing that lawmakers can do to help improve the health of its citizens and that Kentucky business leaders know that a smoke-free state will improve our companies’ bottom lines, help us attract new businesses and workers, produce a more productive workforce and ultimately save lives.
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