By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Kentucky ranks 39th among states in funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs, moving down one slot from last year’s ranking of 38th, according to a report by a national coalition of public-health groups.
That drop is likely due to the 40 percent cut in state funding for these programs in the fiscal year that began July 1: $2 million, down from $3.3 million.
That cut means the state is spending just 3.5% of the $56.4 million that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it spend on tobacco prevention and cessation, down from 5.9% last year.
“Meanwhile, the tobacco industry spends more than $274 million marketing their products in Kentucky, which means they outspend us 1,387 to one,” Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said in a statement.
“These programs are cost-effective. One study showed that every dollar spent on cessation programs for persons on Medicaid returns $3 in savings. Further, the U.S. surgeon general found that school-based tobacco-prevention programs could reduce or postpone smoking among youth by 20 percent to 40 percent.
“We know the state budget is very tight, and we understand that the current year’s budget process was cut short by the pandemic. This year, we urge budget conference committee members to consider the significant cost savings of tobacco prevention and cessation programs.”
Other key findings for Kentucky in the report include:
- 23.6% of Kentucky’s adults smoke
- 8.9% of high-school students smoke and 26.1% use e-cigarettes
- 8.900 Kentuckians die each year from smoking
- 34% of Kentucky’s cancer deaths are caused by smoking
- The state’s estimated annual health-care cost directly caused by smoking is $1.92 billion
- The state and federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures in Kentucky is $1,158 per household.
The report, titled “Broken Promises To Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement 22 Years Later,” calls on states to “do more to fight tobacco use – still the nation’s No. 1 cause of preventable death and disease – to accelerate progress and confront the growing epidemic of youth e-cigarette use in America.”
A news release offers examples of policies that are proven to work. It says, “In addition to funding tobacco prevention programs, these strategies include prohibiting all flavored tobacco products, significant tobacco tax increases, comprehensive smoke-free laws, hard-hitting mass media campaigns, and barrier-free insurance coverage for tobacco cessation programs.”
The annual report is issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and Truth Initiative.