Advocates Celebrate 20th Anniversary of Lexington Smokefree Ordinance

Nearly 60 KY Municipalities Have Since Passed Smokefree Ordinances

June 30, 2023 | CONTACT:

Lexington, KY— Advocates gathered this week in Lexington, Kentucky to celebrate 20 years since lawmakers passed a city-wide smokefree ordinance on July 1, 2003. The groundbreaking ordinance was the first of its kind anywhere in the South or Midwest. Nearly 60 Kentucky municipalities, and dozens more across the region, have since adopted their own smokefree ordinances. At the time, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) applauded Lexington for going smokefree in the heart of a tobacco-growing state, becoming a compelling national example that led the way for much of the country.

“We congratulate the community of Lexington on reaching the 20th anniversary of its historic smokefree ordinance,” said Cynthia Hallett, MPH, president and CEO of ANR. “Lexington's pioneering smokefree law, the first of its kind in Kentucky, has saved countless lives and significantly improved the health of its citizens. Since its implementation, there has been a reduction in heart attacks, asthma-related emergency department visits, and the smoking rate in Fayette County.

“We commend the City of Lexington, Mayor Linda Gorton, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council, and the many advocates and partners involved in championing and upholding this critical public health legislation. We stand alongside Lexington in celebrating this milestone and remain committed to advocating for smokefree policies that create healthier environments for all Americans.”

After Lexington’s smokefree law took effect, the city experienced a reduction in heart attacks and emergency department visits for asthma, and the smoking rate in Fayette County declined by nearly 32%, resulting in 16,500 fewer smokers for an estimated annual healthcare cost savings of $21 million. In 2009, Lexington’s smokefree law paved the way for the University of Kentucky to adopt a tobacco-free campus to protect the health of students, employees, and visitors.