Louisville, KY – Kentucky has one of the highest premature birth rates in the country. That's according to a new report out today (Wednesday) from the March of Dimes. In response, some Kentucky lawmakers have formed the Healthy Babies Caucus, which will work toward improving the health of expectant mothers and women of childbearing age. Health officials say the number-one preventable cause of premature birth is smoking. Representative Mary Lou Marzian says it's time to raise Kentucky's cigarette tax, which is among the lowest in the nation.
"You know I'm tired of being a Kentuckian in the legislature and saying thank God for Mississippi. We can take the bull by the horns and say yes, we're going to raise 75-cents, a significant amount of money, to meet these issues to pay for health care, to pay for education and to stop kids from smoking." The Kentucky House passed a measure this year to raise the tax, but it died in the Senate.