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American Lung Association report finds Kentucky must do more to prevent, reduce tobacco use

Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year.

Kentucky’s tobacco prevention and cessation funding. *Source: the American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control report (click to enlarge).

This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report from the American Lung Association finds Kentucky earned nearly across-the-board failing grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use.

The American Lung Association calls on Kentucky officials to pass Smokefree Students legislation and increase funding for tobacco prevention and control in order to save lives.

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy.

The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.

The need for Kentucky to take action to protect youth from tobacco is more urgent than ever, with youth e-cigarette use reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

This equals one million additional kids beginning to use e-cigarettes, placing their developing bodies and lungs at risk from the chemicals in e-cigarettes as well as a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product. This has caused the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in an Advisoryissued in December 2018.

“In Kentucky, our smoking rates remain at 24.6 percent. Tobacco use is a serious addiction and we need to invest in the proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use outlined in ‘State of Tobacco Control’,” said American Lung Association Advocacy Director, Shannon Baker. “The report provides a roadmap on how to save lives, but much work remains to be done in communities across Kentucky to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”

The 17thannual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use. It’s findings include that, while Kentucky has increased funding for its state tobacco prevention program by over $1 million this fiscal year, elected officials must do more.

To save lives and ensure all Kentucky residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke it recommends:

• Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – GradeF

• Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – GradeF

• Level of State Tobacco Taxes – GradeF

• Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – GradeC

• Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F

The American Lung Association encourages Kentucky to fully fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC, and in particular, this year’s report noted the need to focus on Smokefree Students legislation.

An increase in funding for tobacco control programs, would provide a powerful opportunity to help further reduce and prevent tobacco use, including supporting communities that still use tobacco at higher rates and who have been targeted by the tobacco industry.

An investment in prevention is especially important given the skyrocketing number of youth who are using e-cigarettes. Despite Kentucky receiving more than $5 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the American Lung Association indicates the state does not fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“This year marks the 20thanniversary of the largest legal settlement in U.S. history – the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement,” said Baker. “Kentucky receives millions of dollars every year from this settlement, and we believe the funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to help smokers quit and prevent tobacco use.”

“State of Tobacco Control” 2019 provides a blueprint that states and the federal government can follow to put in place proven policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the United States.

For more information about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, click here.

From American Lung Association

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