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House week in review

Rep. Hubert Collins

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A little over 34 percent of Kentuckians are covered by local smoke-free laws that ban smoking in workplaces and enclosed public places or buildings open to the public, state tobacco prevention and cessation officials told state lawmakers early this month.


Those Kentuckians live or work in 23 municipalities with comprehensive smoke-free ordinances that ban smoking in all workplaces and public areas or facilities, Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program official Angela Criswell told the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee. They are among 37 local governments statewide, including Louisville Metro and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County government, covered by either a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance or some degree of smoke-free regulation, according to the Kentucky Tobacco Policy Research Program.


Here locally, there are three cities with comprehensive smoke-free ordinances: Paintsville, Pikeville, and Prestonsburg. I should also mention that the City of Williamsburg passed the most recent comprehensive ordinance in February, according to Criswell.


Smoke-free ordinances are intended to exposure to secondhand smoke, which Criswell said can trigger asthma attacks, cause lung disease, and decrease the heart’s ability to pump blood leading to heart disease or heart attack.


Criswell was reporting to the oversight committee because her program is funded, at least in part, with state tobacco settlement dollars. The program received $2.12 million in tobacco settlement dollars in fiscal year 2013 and is budgeted to receive $2.09 million in tobacco settlement funds in fiscal year 2014 which begins July 1, she said. About 80 percent of the program’s tobacco settlement funding is allocated to local health departments for tobacco cessation and prevention programming and to cover tobacco coordinator costs.


In response to a question from a committee member, state Health Programs Branch manager and former state Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program manager Irene Centers said the state’s smoking rate dropped from 32 to 25 percent between 2000 (when the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program was established) and 2010. Some of the credit for the decrease is owed to Kentucky’s “quit line”—1-800-QUIT-NOW—which smokers can call to receive counseling on how to kick the habit, although Criswell said additional funding for NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) for smokers could improve the state’s “quit success rate” significantly.


With additional NRT funding, Criswell indicated that Kentucky’s current quit success rate of 26 percent—which she said is above the national average—could reach 40 percent. NRT is now being offered through the program for a limited time with funding assistance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she said.


“We see that (additional funding) as a very real need,” she said.


The committee also received a report from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy on projects considered for state Agricultural Development Board funding last month.


I’ll have more to share next time. Until then, have a good week.

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