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Local restaurant reaps the benefits of going smoke-free

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By Emily LaForme

 Lebanon restaurant, Cedarwood, recently went smoke-free, and the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Marion County is encouraging other businesses to follow suit. 

Cedarwood, a Marion County favorite for country comfort food, recently decided to go smoke-free for the first time since its doors opened in the 1950s. When looking at online reviews of the restaurant, the most common complaint was cigarette smoke, according to Jessi Turpin Fields, who runs her family’s restaurant with her brother, Josh Turpin. 

“It’s been a decision that we’ve been going back and forth for years now,” she said. “We were afraid of losing customers, so that’s why we didn’t do it right away.”

Fields said when it came down to it, the fact that not many of her staff smoked, and the opportunity to install a new air conditioning unit, partnered with all of the complaints, helped with the decision to finally go smoke-free.

“We just decided it was time to do it,” said Fields. “We posted it on Facebook, we got some bad comments on it, but for the most part they were good comments saying the reason they don’t dine there is because of the smoke. Since then, we’ve been better, and we’ve been busier. People are bringing their families in, so it’s helped us more than it’s hurt us.”

Fields said even some of the regulars who threatened to stop coming to the restaurant have continued to come, and they are refraining from smoking inside.

“There aren’t many places left that you can go to smoke,” said Fields. “I think this has been a really good thing. It was affecting our health being there in the smoke all day every day, and it feels better now. We thought it would change what Cedarwood means to everyone, but everyone still loves it the same.”

Air quality results

In 2015, between Aug. 14-31, indoor air quality was analyzed in eight individually owned businesses located in Marion County. The data was collected and analyzed by the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy, which was recently released by the Marion County coalition.

“We’ve done the air quality testing in about 50 other communities across the state over the last 10 years or so,” said Amanda Bucher, program coordinator for the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy. “We are excited to go over Marion County’s indoor air quality with the community.”

Bucher addressed the Marion County Industrial Foundation at the First Friday Forum on Oct. 5 to discuss the study as well. 

According to the study, the workplaces were visited Friday through Monday for an average of 49 minutes. The tests were conducted at various times of the day from 12:04 p.m. to 11:13 p.m. On average, 33 patrons were present at each workplace and 2.3 cigarettes were burning during the scans.

The study found that the average level of indoor air pollution in Marion County workplaces are approximately four times higher than Hardin County and eight times higher than Bardstown after those counties implemented smoke-free laws. 

The study also found the level of indoor air pollution inside of Marion County workplaces is 2.1 times higher than what the National Ambient Air Quality Standard dictates for what outdoor air quality should be.

The Coalition for a Smoke Free Marion County is encouraging community leaders and businesses to partner in the goal to end smoking inside businesses, especially restaurants. 

“Our purpose is only to create cleaner air in all indoor public places,” said Jennifer Osborne, health education coordinator in Marion, Nelson and Washington counties. “A smoke free ordinance is not about asking people to stop smoking. It only asks them to take it outside.”

Emphasis is being placed on the dangers of second-hand smoke that comes with allowing patrons to smoke in establishments.

“In non-smokers, second hand smoke exposure increases the risk of stroke and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent,” said Bucher. “It also increases the risk of developing heart disease in non-smokers by 25 to 30 percent. It is the most common trigger of asthma attacks, it causes asthma, it causes sudden infant death syndrome, and it also raises the risk of breast cancer in young women. So we do know there is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke.”

According to the data released by the Coalition for a Smoke Free Marion County, as of Oct. 1, 49 Kentucky communities have implemented smoke-free laws.