Friday, October 6, 2017

'Tobacco Nation' report cites Kentucky as example of challenges facing those who want to change public policies on tobacco

Kentucky, which has the nation's highest smoking rate, is of 12 contiguous states where smoking rates are higher than "not only the national average, but that of many of the most tobacco-dependent countries in the world," says a report published by Truth Initiative, a nonprofit organization created by the 1998 agreement among states and cigarette manufacturers.

The report, "Tobacco Nation," cites Kentucky as an example of "the challenge of changing policies" relating to tobacco. It notes that the state has "no broad restrictions exist to prevent smoking in public places and workplaces," and "A statewide smoking ban to prohibit tobacco use on school properties and at school events has yet to be enacted. Moreover, the tax rate hasn’t changed since 2009."

It adds, "In Missouri, the circumstances are even more bleak; the state has the lowest cigarette excise tax per pack in the nation ($0.17) and the rate hasn’t changed in 24 years. One factor clearly suppressing the adoption of tobacco control policies in Tobacco Nation is opposition by Big Tobacco."

Ben Chandler, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said the report "paints a stark picture of the health benefits policymakers can achieve by enacting stronger laws proven to protect the public from secondhand smoke and reduce smoking rates. The good news is that we know what works to reduce tobacco-related disease and illness. The bad news is that Kentucky leads the other 11 'Tobacco Nation' states in smoking, cancer and COPD. But with stronger laws and ordinances -- including higher state tobacco taxes and local smoke-free ordinances covering indoor workplaces -- Kentucky can lead regional health improvements."

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