With state health numbers trending in the wrong direction the Foundation for a Healthy KY focuses on smoking

10/03/2017 03:05 PM

From cancer rates to obesity and heart disease Kentucky is almost always a top contender for one of the unhealthiest states in the nation.

The Commonwealth has the highest rate of adult and teen smoking, and one group has joined the fight against the trend.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and their CEO Ben Chandler is pushing hard to curb smoking in an effort to reverse poor health outcomes.

“The most important thing for us is trying to move the health needle. Kentuckians are not well — you look at all of the health indicators and we have a population that is just not well,” Chandler said in an interview with Pure Politics. “That has enormous implications.”

Chandler said the foundation decided to focus on smoking rates as a place where they could move the health needle, and actually enact policy.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is taking a two-pronged approach to address smoking: enacting smoke free laws across the state and increasing taxes on cigarettes.

“You do those two things, and you will reduce the smoking rate in Kentucky, and you will reduce the cancer rate,” he said, adding that the solutions cost taxpayers nothing to enact.

Chandler said the state should seriously consider raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes a dollar to $1.60 per-pack to reduce smoking. He said that by raising the tax per-pack by a dollar, more people will quit and never pick up smoking in the first place. The tax hike would still put Kentucky below the national tax average, Chandler said in the interview.

The foundation is making a push to enact local smoke-free ordinances at the county level across the state. The Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow estimates just 32.7 percent of Kentuckians live in areas protected by comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws.

The smoke-free laws would prohibit smoking in public places, workplaces, indoor restaurants in an effort to protect other non-smoking individuals, and make smoking more inconvenient and less socially acceptable.

England went smoke-free indoor public places a decade ago, and statistics show deaths from heart disease and strokes fell dramatically.

“It does make a difference and we can do it here in Kentucky — it’s not that hard,” Chandler said.


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