The CDC says Kentucky should spend $57.2 million a year to have an effective, comprehensive tobacco-prevention program, but the state allocates only $2.1 million a year to such programs — 3.7 percent of the recommended amount.
By another measure, the amount is only 0.6 percent of the estimated $381 million the state gets from tobacco taxes and the 1998 national settlement with cigarette manufacturers, according to a tobacco settlement report.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s health-care costs attributable to smoking add up
to about $1.5 billion a year, and smoking-caused productivity losses total $2.3 billion a year. These amounts do not include health costs caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, smoking-caused fires, smokeless tobacco use or cigar and pipe smoking.
Despite the known health risks that tobacco use poses, smoking in Kentucky remains a part of everyday life in most places. But that is increasingly less so around the country, so there is an increasing gap between heavy-smoking and low-smoking states; smoking in Kentucky is about twice as prevalent as in Utah and California, reports
Steven Reinberg of HealthDay
. Click here
for an interactive map of states’ tobacco prevention efforts.
There are proven, multi-pronged strategies to curb smoking. They include combinations of higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws, media campaigns, and restricted access to tobacco products. However, Kentucky continues to lag behind other states due to “stagnant policies” and a lack of funding, said Hahn.
Many other factors contribute to Kentucky’s lack of tobacco-prevention progress. By failing to substantially reduce adult smoking, the state misses opportunities to encourage younger adults and children not to smoke, Hahn said. Kentucky needs to employ strategies that communicate the success and affordability of tobacco cessation programs, she said; people often lack the encouragement to quit smoking because they don’t know how or they don’t believe it is possible.
The latest tobacco report is a timely reminder that tobacco use remains a huge public health problem for Kentucky and there are proven strategies that, if implemented, could help Kentuckians live a healthier, tobacco-free life.
Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for
Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, with support from the
Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.