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Kentucky Secures Third Place in States’ Race to Go Smoke Free

Publish Date: March 24, 2021

Kentucky Secures Third Place in States’ Race to Go Smoke Free

Kentucky will go surgical smoke-free in operating rooms across the state on January 1, 2022 following nearly three years of advocacy efforts that overcame some major hurdles, including the pandemic that cut the 2020 Kentucky legislative session short.

On March 22, Governor Andy Beshear signed Kentucky SB 38 into law, requiring hospitals and outpatient surgery centers to use a surgical smoke evacuation system during any procedure that generates smoke. AORN’s government affairs team and Kentucky AORN members worked closely with the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA) to educate lawmakers and advocate for this important workplace safety legislation. Kentucky joins Colorado and Rhode Island in passing surgical smoke-free legislation.

Darlin Hruska, RN, BSN, CNOR, Chair, Kentucky State Council of Perioperative Nurses, garnered support from the KNA in the fall of 2019 by petitioning KNA to add surgical smoke evacuation as an issue on the organization’s policy agenda. Later that fall, Hruska contacted her state Senator, Julie Raque Adams, and asked her to sponsor legislation in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.

“We are grateful for all of the support we’ve gotten for this bill: from KNA, to Senator Raque Adams and now to the Governor. Kentucky cares about its healthcare workers,” said Hruska.

“While it took some time to work through the legislative system, AORN is impressed that Kentucky has taken this important step toward workplace safety at a time when many other states face resistance to their smoke evacuation bills. Kentucky has shown leadership and compassion and now stands on the right side of history on this issue,” said Jennifer Pennock, senior manager of AORN Government Affairs. “Our work for similar legislation will continue across the U.S. until smoke in the operating room is as unacceptable as cigarette smoke on airplanes.”

Congratulations to Kentucky AORN members and their surgical colleagues on achieving this incredible milestone. Follow all of the surgical smoke evacuation legislation that is moving this year and contact Jennifer Pennock, to find out how you can lay the groundwork for successful legislation in your state.