Kentucky Receives "F" Rating on Tobacco Policy

Jan 21, 2015

Credit Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin, Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky is receiving failing grades across the board in a new report from the American Lung Association.

The report criticizes the commonwealth for having one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the nation, as well as poor access to smoking cessation programs.

Heather Wehrheim is advocacy director with the Kentucky chapter of the A.L.A.

She says Kentucky’s standing would improve greatly if lawmakers pass a statewide smoking ban this year.

“We are confident that it will pass this session and we’ve been working on it for a number of years and feel like it is the biggest thing we can do to protect people in this state from second-hand smoke," said Wehrheim. 

She also says many in the state don’t realize smoking cessation programs are covered by health insurance policies. 

“Insurance plans are so complicated and the Affordable Care Act is so complicated that a lot of people don’t know what services they should be receiving or should have access to," said Wehrheim. 

Kentucky’s death rate from smoking is the highest in the nation, and the state’s annual health care costs related to smoking exceed $1.9 billion.

The report calls on Kentucky lawmakers to pass a statewide smoking ban this year. Such efforts have failed the last four legislative sessions.