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Health Advocate Says Kentucky Can Do More to Prevent Smoking-Related Illnesses

Lisa Autry

The leader of a health advocacy group says Kentucky isn’t investing enough in the prevention of cancer. 

Ben Chandler, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, says many of the state’s cancer cases are related to smoking.  In a speech to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club on Wednesday, Chandler said the state isn’t doing enough to curb the habit. 

The Foundation wants a higher tax on cigarettes.  While the General Assembly raised the tax this year by 50 cents, Chandler says that’s not enough to make people kick the habit. 

The tax also doesn’t apply to vaping products which are increasing in popularity, especially among young people.  Electronic cigarettes, which are battery-operated devices, have been touted as a way to help adult smokers ween themselves off of cigarettes.  However, Chandler said vaping gets youth addicted to nicotine and they often use e-cigarettes as a gateway to real cigarettes.

"Bubble gum, cotton candy. They're not making that to try to get older people to quit smoking. They're making those flavors to attract new, younger smokers," stated Chandler.

The Food and Drug Administration last month called electronic cigarettes an epidemic among teens and threatened to pull the products from the market.  In 2017, 44 percent of Kentucky high school students reported they had at least tried vaping while 14 percent admitted using e-cigarettes on a regular basis.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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