A milestone in medical achievement…

Wow.

Congratulations to Dr Melissa Walton-Shirley for her leadership role in achieving a smoking ban in Glasgow, KY.   That’s right, Glasgow KY, deep in the heart of one of America’s largest tobacco producing counties.

Ablating atrial fibrillation, implanting ICDs and “squishing” blockages are procedures that help the singular few.  They can often prove challenging, but pale in comparison to the herculean-like effort it took to spearhead a public smoking ban in a rural hub of tobacco farming.

Not surprisingly, many local leaders (the “old boys”) were strongly opposed. It took years, tolerance of many setbacks, and much perseverance, but in accomplishing this public health milestone, Dr Walton-Shirley has improved the health of thousands in a state which can really use a boost in public health.

For the record, I do not know Dr Walton-Shirley, but am proud that she is a cardiologist, and blogger.  Grin.

Sweet.

JMM

5 comments

  1. My province of Ontario has had a smoking ban in place since 2005. It feels entirely natural now – to the point that I'm shocked when I smell smoke.

    This is indeed a positive step and something to be excited about.

  2. I'm not an advocate of smoking, but I do advocate freedom.

    TheHeart.org article initially talks about smoking being banned in "public buildings." Courthouses, jails, DMV, libraries, etc. I agree with that.

    But the polititians there also define public buildings to be businesses open to the public. Privately owned businesses.

    If a barbershop owner wants to allow smoking in the building he owns, why shouldn't it be allowed?

    People who object to smoke (like me) can get their haircuts elsewhere. They are free to do that.

    [I realize I'm in a distinct minority here – a minority that values freedom over bigger government.]

    -Steve

  3. In cities, the odor of cigarette smoke in a public place is fortunately a rarity these days. Not in rural Kentucky though, and herein lies the magnitude of this public health achievement. Not far outside the confines of our medium sized city, the ruralness approaches fast.

    Quickie-marts in the country often have tables with ashtrays, and farmers who sit, smoke and chat. Lycra-clad cyclists with expensive sunglasses who wade through the cloud of smoke on their way to the cooler provide a striking contrast of humankind. It is a sight.

    Steve,

    Yes, I suspect as a doctor you are in the minority. Government intrusion is worrisome, and surely warrants a healthy dose of concern.

    But the health of Kentuckians is stunningly bad. The costs of their healthcare is steadily rising, and in large part is incurred by government. That this is so, provides some plausibility in government's role in helping citizens make better health choices.

    Although, I am not advocating implementing a health police, I cannot help but wonder whether individuals would make better choices if it was financially beneficial to do so. For example, I brush my teeth more now that I know that root canals cost almost as much as a MacBook–and that I pay the bill.

    Would we eat less ring-dings or potato chips if they cost more? Could a tax on cigarettes, or junk-food, or alcohol be used to defray much of these choice-related healthcare costs. Surely, the money will come from somewhere. Shouldn't it in part come from the consumption of these causative agents?

    JMM

  4. John,
    I just saw your blog comment and I appreciate it very much. Just to show you how quickly you can drive a change in culture once an ordinance is in place, the most vocal opponent on the city council was quoted yesterday in a article about the Great American Smoke Out as saying, "I guess it's been (the ordinance) pretty much accepted". However, it's been much more than accepted, it's working to decrease primary and secondary smoke exposure. Someone told me that the largest local retailer in our area has been quoted as saying that many of his employees have now quit smoking rather than having to go outside all of the time. Though they had represented themselves as smoke free, they still had a little smoking room in the back, hidden away from patrons. That smoking room is "no more" and fewer of those employees will now die of heart disease, COPD and lung cancer.
    As for the commment regarding the worries about business owner's rights, no owner's rights should ever override safety. When folks can't muster benevolence and protection on their own, it's left to the rest of us to try and legislate it. In Glasgow, my niece with Cystic Fibrosis no longer has to dodge smoke and neither do folks with COPD, asthma and heart disease and that is the ULTIMATE FREEDOM from harm that we should champion.
    Melissa

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