Kentucky received straight Fs on the 2014 “State of Tobacco Control” report published Wednesday by the American Lung Association. The study looked at four areas including creating a smoke free environment, cigarette taxes, insurance coverage for cessation programs and tobacco prevention.
Ellen Kershaw with the American Lung Association – Kentucky says tobacco education programs that have had success across the country have been underfunded by state lawmakers in Frankfort.
“Media campaigns, in-school programs, county health education and outreach. Across the board, there’s so much more that Kentucky can do,” said Kershaw.
The study found that 28 percent of Kentuckians smoke and nearly a quarter of the state’s high school students are tobacco users. Kershaw says the American Lung Association also supports a higher cigarette tax in Kentucky.
“That’s another effective tool, that unfortunately, hasn’t been implemented yet here in Kentucky,” said Kershaw. “We would definitely advocate for at least a dollar increase in the cigarette tax as a way to encourage kids not to pick up the habit and also for people to quit smoking.”
The last increase in the cigarette tax in Kentucky came in 2009.
The American Lung Association is strongly encouraging lawmakers to pass current legislation that would enact a statewide indoor smoking ban. Opponents argue that a ban would infringe on the rights of private business owners.