Tobacco

FRANKFORT The American Cancer Society once again is asking Kentucky lawmakers for legislation channeling more of the state’s tobacco settlement money into prevention and cessation efforts.

The society, citing a report from the non-profit Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says state spending on such programs is a fraction of that recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Through its lobbying arm, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the society calls for increasing state spending to $10 million annually for tobacco prevention and cessation. It says the increase is vital because of the upward trend in use of e-cigarette devices, known as vaping.

It estimates 2,600 fewer children would become addicted as adults and 800 fewer would die prematurely because of tobacco.

The report, issued annually for 21 years, found in its most recent edition that Kentucky will collect $507.3 million from tobacco taxes and the 1998 tobacco settlement, in which the major tobacco companies resolved a lawsuit by 46 states and agreed to pay billions for recovery of tobacco-related health care costs.

The original intent was that states would use the money to fight tobacco use, but no such restrictions were placed on the funds.

Kentucky will spend only 0.7 percent of its share on prevention programs, the report says.

The state in the past has spent the majority of its share in agriculture programs designed to help farmers shift from tobacco to other crops.

The report ranks Kentucky 38th in spending on prevention and cessation — $3.3 million in 2020, which is 5.9 percent of the $56.4 million recommended by the CDC.

It contrasts that with the state’s smoking rates of 24.6 percent for adults and 14.3 percent for high school students — among the highest in the nation.

In the early years after the settlement, Kentucky spent a higher proportion — a much as 23.1 percent — of its share on prevention, according to the report. But that slacked off by the late 2000s.

Prevention is needed to curb the increase of teenagers using e-cigarette devices such as the Juul, according to the report. Use of such devices has increased by 78 percent this year, the report said.

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mjames@dailyindependent.com

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