Survey Results Favor Prohibiting the Use of E-Cigarettes and Hookah in Indoor Public Places

November 10, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – (November 10, 2016)   Results of a recent informal survey by the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness indicate that a majority of respondents favor including e-cigarettes, vaping, and hookah products to Louisville’s smoke-free ordinance.

On September 28, the department sponsored a community educational forum to discuss the possibility of expanding Louisville’s smoke-free ordinance to include such products. Several local experts presented on the issue and attendees were allowed to ask questions and express opinions.

“The current smoke-free ordinance prohibits smoking tobacco in indoor public places and worksites, but electronic cigarettes and hookah were not explicitly restricted in 2008 in the ordinance,” said Matt Rhodes, deputy director and head of the department’s Division of Environmental Health. “It was important for us to present what current science and data is available as well as allow the public to express comments.”

Local residents were invited by the department to take the survey and express comment from September 28 to October 28, 2016. Only responses from individuals living inside Jefferson County were counted and, to mitigate against skewing results by special interest groups on both sides of the issue, only the first four comments sent from the same IP address were counted. The department also accepted mail-in and phone comments during the same time period.

Nearly 800 responses were received. In response to the question “How strongly do you support or oppose efforts to improve indoor air quality by expanding the local Smoke-free ordinance to include e-cigarettes, “vaping,” and hookahs,” 58 percent strongly or somewhat strongly supported such efforts.

Additionally, 40 percent strongly or somewhat opposed. 1.7 percent neither supported nor opposed.   

The survey also provided space for written comments.

“As we reviewed the written comments, it was clear that many believe this is a threat to public health and support restricting their use in indoor public settings,” said Rhodes.  “The comments of those who were opposed seemed to believe second-hand exposure to vapor is not harmful and that restrictions would hurt businesses such as vape shops and hookah lounges.”

More than 500 communities across the country, including 13 in Kentucky, already include e-cigarettes or hookah in their smoke-free laws. Many local businesses, healthcare facilities, educational institutions, sports facilities and entertainment venues in Louisville also currently restrict e-cigarettes and hookah in their own wellness policies.

“We have extensively studied the research, shared that with the community and asked for public opinion,” said Rhodes. “Our next step will be to present the Mayor with a report and our recommendation on how we should proceed. We have a standard of clean indoor air in Louisville. In the interest of public health, we believe we need to adapt to market changes to maintain that standard.”

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