Anti-smoking, Anti-heroin Efforts Both Critical

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THE ENQUIRER | OP-ED | FEBRUARY 25, 2015

In his Feb. 22 column, “Smoking ban a step toward nanny state,” Kevin Gordon questioned which was a greater public health priority for Northern Kentucky: a smoke-free law or measures targeted at heroin treatment/prevention.

The choice is not either/or. Both are critical. Combined, heroin and tobacco use cost Kentucky more than $10 billion each year in health care costs and lost productivity. The Northern Kentucky Health Department has staff working on each issue, and has sought out grant funding to increase our capacity to address both.

My staff and many community members advocated for heroin reforms at the Northern Kentucky legislative caucus’s public forum Feb. 2. Members of Northern Kentucky’s legislative delegation stated that they realize the crucial need for heroin legislation this session, but few spoke out in favor of a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law – and so, that is the issue about which I chose to educate and advocate.

Public policies can have a significant impact on public health. A smoke-free law and reforms to address the heroin epidemic can go a long way toward improving the quality of life and economic vibrancy of Kentucky.

Lynne M. Saddler, M.D., M.P.H., district director of health, Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department

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