A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

UK gets $11 million grant to decrease cervical cancer in Eastern Ky; focus on smoking, HPV, screenings

The University of Kentucky has been awarded a five-year, $11 million grant to work toward reducing the rates of cervical cancer in Eastern Kentucky, a region that has some of the highest rates of incidence and deaths from it in the nation. The research will address three of the risk factors that contribute to these high rates — smoking, the human papillomavirus (HPV) and low rates of cervical-cancer...

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...

Women encouraged to learn cancer risk factors as Breast Cancer Awareness Month approaches

Breast cancer affects about 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1,000 men in the United States during the course of their lifetime, and is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, according to the National Cancer Institute. While breast cancer is most often found in women who are age 50 and older, the disease can also affect younger women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about...

Study shows secondhand smoke linked to school absence, ER visits and respiratory issues in teens

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News It’s long been established that exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful to babies and young children. Now a study shows that it’s bad for teenagers, too. The University of Cincinnati study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics, analyzed data from 7,389 non-smoking teens aged 12-17 who did not have asthma and had completed the 2017 Population...

Study says youth likely to start smoking after they turn 18, not before; calls for more prevention efforts

The celebration in recent years about lower smoking rates among teenagers could end up being all for naught, as a new study shows that more people are likely to now start smoking after they turn 18, not before. The study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston looked at data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2006 to 2013. It found that the start of cigarette smoking...

William Hacker: Cigarette tax is good health policy, especially for Kentucky babies and youth

23,200 more Kentucky youth who become smoke-free adults. Nearly 1,200 healthier newborns every year. $1 billion in long-term health care cost savings. Isn’t that worth a dollar more? Health advocates are calling for a $1 per pack increase in Kentucky’s state tax on cigarettes because it will reduce tobacco use, particularly among youth and pregnant women. Less smoking means healthier babies and...

Lobbying on cigarette tax ramps up with foundation ads and tobacco firms use of farmers, retailers

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News If activity by lobbying interests is any indication, the idea of raising the state cigarette tax $1 a pack is an active idea among members of the Kentucky General Assembly. The main group advocating the tax increase, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, reported spending more than any other lobby during the first month of the session. Its total of $100,240 was not...

Supporters say increasing cigarette tax could help break link between smoking and mental illness

Kentuckians living with mental illness have high smoking rates, and often require stronger doses of psychiatric medications and live shorter lives as a result. But quitting smoking can improve their lives, and an increase in the state excise tax on tobacco products would be particularly effective in reducing smoking among this group, according to the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow. More than 40...

Kentucky moves up slightly in America’s Health Rankings, but there’s little reason to celebrate

Kentucky moved up three notches in the latest America’s Health Rankings, from 45th to 42nd, but its improvement stemmed mainly from gains in the factors that determine health, not the actual health outcomes. The state was 39th in health determinants (clinical care, policy, community and environment) but 46th in outcomes, such as the death rate from cancer, which is the nation’s worst. That...

Coalition for a Smoke-Free Kentucky releases Infographic illustrating high cost of smoking

Kentucky spends $1.92 billion every year on health care costs related to smoking, according to a new infographic released by the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow. The infographic makes the case for raising the state’s current tax on cigarettes by at least $1 per pack, which would raise $266.2 million a year in revenue that the Commonwealth could use for health care, pensions or other needs. Created...

Number of Kentucky school districts implementing 100 percent tobacco free policies drops sharply

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Only two school districts have passed 100 percent smoke-free school policies in Kentucky this year, compared to 16 in 2016, perhaps because they are waiting to see if the state will require such action. “Sometimes when the state legislature takes things on, local officials kind of wait and see if the state’s going to do it,” Ellen Hahn, director...

Community Leadership Program graduates address tobacco use in high school students in Appalachia

By Mallory Powell Special to KyForward Lifelong habits of tobacco use often begin during one’s teenage years. For Kentucky, this reality is particularly concerning, as the rate of tobacco use among Kentucky high school students is well above the national average — 35.8 percent compared with 20.2 percent. This includes all forms of tobacco, from cigarettes to vapes to chewing tobacco, though the...

FDA expected to decide if smokeless cigarette can be sold in U.S., delays ruling on health claims

Philip Morris International says it has created a heat-not-burn smoking device that will have 90 to 95 percent less toxic compounds than cigarettes, “an innovation it claims could save lives and eliminate smoking in America,” William Wan reports for The Washington Post. The process gently heats sticks of tobacco in a special battery-operated device and is sold in 25 countries under the...

Commentary: New state law makes it easier than ever to quit smoking — get help now

By Erica Palmer Smith Special to KyForward For the nearly 900,000 smokers in Kentucky, there has never been a better time to quit.   During the 2017 legislative session, the General Assembly passed much needed legislation to equip individuals addicted to tobacco with the tools they need to quit successfully. The smoking cessation coverage bill (Senate Bill 89) removes barriers that limit patient access...

SmartHealthToday: It’s never too late to quit smoking and the benefits are immediate and significant

By Dianne Gebhardt-French SmartHeathToday It’s not too late to quit smoking, and some benefits are nearly immediate, a range of experts say. The year after you quit, your risk of future heart disease drops 50 percent, reported the American Heart Association (AHA). “After 15 years, your risk is as low as someone who has never smoked.” More good news comes from the Northern Kentucky Independent...

Kentucky leads nation in percentage of residents who smoke, leading to highest cancer rate in U.S.

Smoking rates have fallen dramatically in the United States, with reports by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) finding that 17.9 percent of the population smoke. However, more recent research has put that number even lower at 15.1 percent. This rate is slightly less than that of the United Kingdom at 16.9 percent , and significantly less than Germany (24.5) and France (25). Of...

Kentucky Health Issues Poll shows support for statewide smoke-free law increases to 71 percent

After three years of holding steady at about 66 percent, support for a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law among adults queried in the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) jumped five points over the past year to 71 percent. That’s an upsurge of 17 points since 2011, when KHIP first asked this question. Opposition to such a measure fell 6 points in just the last year, from 31 percent to...

Fentanyl crackdown bill clears House committee; Senate passes smoke free schools measure

FRANKFORT—A bill that would make it a felony to illegally sell or distribute any amount of fentanyl, carfentanil and related drugs tied to an increase in drug overdoses in Kentucky has passed the House Judiciary Committee. Trafficking in any amount of fentanyl, a pain killer now frequently imported for illegal street sales, and drugs derived from fentanyl as well as carfentanil—a large animal anesthetic...

Leader of Lexington’s smoking ban effort, Dr. David Stevens, passes away at age 87

Dr. David Stevens, a retired orthopedic surgeon who was instrumental in getting a smoking ban in Lexington, died Monday at age 87. Stevens, a Republican, served on the nonpartisan Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council from 1992 to 2008 as an at-large and 5th District member. He was a member of the merger commission that drafted the charter for the merged government, Tom Eblen reports for the Lexington...

Kentucky Health Issues Poll shows most Kentuckians favor upping age for tobacco purchasers

About six in 10 Kentucky adults favor raising the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 years, a level unchanged since 2015 among Democrats and Republicans. Among those identifying themselves politically as Independent, support rose from 55 percent to 65 percent in the last two years, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll. KHIP is an annual poll of Kentucky adults’ opinions...