In Nov. 18 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
As the American Cancer Society marks the 35th Great American Smokeout November 18th, Lake Cumberland Health Department and Russell County Partners in Prevention recognized three restaurants which joined the ranks of local smoke free dining.
Currently there are 18 smoke free restaurants in Russell County including Arby's, Mitchell's Family Restaurant and Pueblo Viejo which recently made the decision to go smoke free.
"I'm very proud of the Russell County businesses that have voluntarily gone smoke free to protect not only employees but also the public's health," said Shirley Roberson, Health Educator at Lake Cumberland Health Department.
Roberson said second hand smoke is a serious health problem that causes numerous cases of bronchitis and pneumonia and increases by 20 to 30 percent the chances a nonsmoker will get lung cancer.
There is no safe place to smoke indoors she said. The invisible toxic particles from cigarette smoke stays in a room for hours after the cigarette has been smoked.
Secondhand smoke each year causes about 46,000 deaths to nonsmokers from heart disease and 3,000 deaths from lung cancer said Roberson.
Kentucky has the highest adult smoking rate in the U.S. and is first in adult deaths from smoking-related illnesses.
Local smokers are adjusting to more restaurants where smoking is not allowed and in some cases have chosen to quit smoking.
"Sometimes there are complaints from smokers but most people like the smoke free dining room," said Paul Campos, manager of Pueblo Viejo Mexican restaurant. "Some people who came before and smoked have now quit smoking."
Nonsmokers are enjoying more opportunities to go out for meals in smoke free restaurants.
"We've had a lot of positive comments about going smoke free," said Deana Morgan co-owner of Mitchell's Family Restaurant. "People really appreciate the smoke free environment."
Families with children are especially appreciative of restaurants that do not allow smoking.
"Business has picked up since we went smoke free," said Marie Meece, manager of Arby's in Russell Springs. "Lots more families are coming in to eat with us."
Meece said she has noticed productivity among workers has improved with smoking only allowed during breaks in designated areas outside the building.
Keeping the restaurant clean is much simpler without battling nicotine and tar residue she said.
"I'm not a smoker and I like the smoke free restaurant much better," said Kelly Minniard, assistant manager of Arby's. "We can tell a big difference in cleaning."
They believe Arby's will notice a big increase in business during tourist season now that they offer smoke free dining.
"We had a lot of tourists who didn't want to come in and eat with us before because of the smoking," Minniard said.
In honor of their commitment to go smoke free, Arby's, Mitchell's Family Restaurant, and Pueblo Viejo received plaques from Russell County Partners in Prevention and the Lake Cumberland Health Department as a part of celebrating The Great American Smokeout.
The Great American Smokeout is a day set aside to encourage smokers to go 24 hours without smoking a cigarette with hopes they will commit to quit smoking entirely.
The Russell County Youth Tobacco Coalition will sponsor "Black Out", an event encouraging all students in local schools to wear black November 18th in observance of The Great American Smokeout.
"Quitting smoking is not easy but it can be done," said Roberson. "People who quit smoking take an important step toward a healthier life that can reduce their risk of getting cancer."
She said to have the best chance of successfully quitting, you need to know what you're up against, what your options are, and where to go for help.
For more information on how to quit smoking, contact Shirley Roberson at 270-866-2181.