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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. In Kentucky, both the smoking rate and the smoking-related death rate are one of the highest in the nation. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Kentucky's elected officials:

  1. Increase funding for the Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program;
  2. Support a statewide law to make all K-12 schools 100 percent tobacco-free; and
  3. Enact legislation to raise the retail sales age of tobacco products to 21 years old.
During the 2018 legislative session, a provision in the 2018 budget bill enacted by the Kentucky legislature increased the state cigarette tax from 60 cents to $1.10 per pack. A compromise from the proposed $1.00 per pack tax increase supported by the American Lung Association and other public health partners in the state, this provision falls short of the goal of significantly reducing Kentucky's smoking rates and smoking-related death and disease rates.

Other provisions included in the 2018 budget package provided funding for important lung cancer research conducted at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville and boosted funding for the Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation program to $3.77 million. This represents over a $1 million increase in funding for the program, which is a step in the right direction. However, it is still $52.6 million short of the recommended spending level by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Separately, legislation to repeal Kentucky's state law that prohibits local regulation of the distribution, sales, or display of tobacco products died in committee.

Polling conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky shows that more than 7 in 10 Kentuckians support a statewide smokefree law in most public places, the highest level of support ever recorded by the Foundation. Importantly, such a law is supported in every region of the state and across party lines.

Simultaneously, the state Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program continues to distribute funds to local and district health departments across the state to support educators' and tobacco coordinators' efforts to provide education in schools, conduct cessation programs, and finance media outreach.

The American Lung Association in Kentucky will continue to work with our many health coalition partners and others to grow and activate our grassroots network statewide, and to advance tobacco control and prevention initiatives at the state and local levels. As the legislature begins its work in 2019, the Lung Association will continue our efforts to educate policy makers, business leaders and the media on the importance of the American Lung Association's goals to reduce tobacco use and protect public health

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