Study shows tailored advocacy for local smoking bans in rural Kentucky gets results

Local smoking bans are only possible if the community is ready for this change, Ellen Hahn, director of the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy, writes in a report of a five-year study she conducted in rural Kentucky.

Readiness for change can be developed in rural communities that participate in smoke-free policy initiatives tailored to their community, Hahn writes in The Journal of Rural HealthThe study evaluated six stages of readiness to determine if a community was ready to support smoke-free policy, and then tailored interventions based on how ready the community was.

The study was conducted in 37 rural Kentucky counties that were randomly selected from those without smoking ordinances or regulations. Nineteen of the communities received policy-intervention strategies, tailored to their readiness, from a trained community adviser. The remaining 18 were used for comparison. Data were collected annually and policy outcomes were tracked over five years.

Nearly one-third of the counties that were the target of interventions adopted smoking bans covering restaurants, bars, and all workplaces, while none of the comparison counties did.

Rural, tobacco-growing areas were chosen because they are “disproportionately affected by tobacco use, secondhand smoke, and weak tobacco control policies,” Hahn writes in the study, “A Controlled Community-Based Trial to Promote Smoke-Free Policy in Rural Communities.”

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