Kanawha Health Department honored for smoking ban
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health and its health officer have received a national award for the county's indoor smoking ban.
The National Association of Local Boards of Health gave the Health Board and Dr. Rahul Gupta the Dr. Marie M. Fallon Leadership Award.
The award is given to a health board that works to address a health issue in their community, Gupta, executive director of the Health Department, said.
Kanawha County has banned smoking in public buildings since 1995. That ban was expanded to include restaurants in 2004 and bars in 2008, Gupta said.
In selecting recipients of the award, the association looks for positive results from a particular policy or effort, Gupta said.
Kanawha County's smoking rate decreased within the first few years of the ban, the Health Department wrote in its application for the award.
In 2002, 31.7 percent of the county smoked. That dropped to 21.6 percent in 2009, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The ban also has led to 37 percent fewer hospital admissions for acute coronary syndrome, or heart attacks, according to a 2011 study by the Health Department and West Virginia University, funded by the American Lung Association.