A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Cancer-fighting advocates mark Great American Smokeout, call for action to prevent tobacco addiction

Cancer patients and survivors will mark the American Cancer Society’s 44th annual Great American Smokeout today by calling on the General Assembly to protect the health of Kentucky residents by passing strong tobacco control legislation, including increased funding to go toward tobacco control programs.

The effort to combat tobacco addiction comes at a critical moment, as Big Tobacco has now succeeded in hooking a new generation on tobacco products. E-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels among youth, with more than one in four high school students (27.5 percent) currently using e-cigarettes.

The advocacy affiliate of ACS, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is working to ensure the General Assembly increases funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs during the 2020 legislative session. These programs give people the resources they need to stop smoking as well as the education they need to never use tobacco products. Kentucky has consistently fallen well below the benchmarks for effectively funding these programs.

“Nearly 70 percent of people who currently smoke cigarettes want to quit, and the Great American Smokeout is about helping people reach that important goal,” said Kristy Young, Kentucky government relations director for ACS CAN. “We know increasing Kentucky’s funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs will help people quit and save lives.

“For far too long, our state has fallen significantly below the CDC recommended funding levels for tobacco programs. By investing in prevention and cessation, lawmakers can prevent our kids from using tobacco products and help ensure Kentuckians who smoke have access to lifesaving programs to help them quit.”

The use of tobacco products remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing more than 480,000 Americans and costing $289 billion in health care costs and lost productivity annually. In Kentucky, tobacco is responsible for an estimated 8,900 deaths each year.

“The youth e-cigarette use epidemic should serve as a stark reminder that we have a long way to go when it comes to combatting Big Tobacco’s influence and protecting our communities from tobacco’s toll,” said Young. “In Kentucky, we must do more to reduce tobacco use and save lives by ensuring Kentuckians are educated on the dangers of all tobacco products and have the resources they need to quit for good.”

From American Cancer Society

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