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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Nine public forums aim to help communities reduce smoking rate

Press Release Date:  Thursday, August 18, 2005  
Contact Information:  Vikki Franklin or Gwenda Bond (502)564-6786  

(August 18, 2005) Kentuckians are being asked to offer their ideas on ways to reduce the rate of smoking in the state.

The Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program – part of the state Department for Public Health (DPH) in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) – and the Get Healthy Kentucky! board will host a series of nine public forums in the coming weeks to raise awareness of the enormous economic and human toll of tobacco use in Kentucky and gather information from residents about how best to tackle the problem.

“The health consequences of tobacco use are incredible,” said James Holsinger Jr., M.D., CHFS secretary and Get Healthy Kentucky! board chairman. “Add to the massive human cost the staggering smoking attributable economic costs – especially in terms of health care and lost productivity – and it’s clear that smoking is literally and figuratively killing us as a state.”

According to DPH’s 2005 report “Tobacco Use in Kentucky,” more than 8,000 Kentuckians die annually from tobacco-related illnesses.  One in four women in Kentucky smokes during her pregnancy.  Among high school students and adults, nearly one in three smokes cigarettes. Kentucky ranks first in the nation in cigarette use.  Fifteen percent of middle school students and 34 percent of high school students smoke cigarettes. At current smoking rates, 87,902 Kentucky children 18 or younger will die prematurely from smoking.

In 2001, among men ages 35-64, 91 percent of all trachea, lung and bronchus cancer deaths in Kentucky were the result of smoking.  For women in the same age bracket, 80 percent of deaths from those causes were attributed to smoking.

The total smoking-attributable medical expenditures in Kentucky are approximately $1.2 billion annually – that equals a burden on the four million people in Kentucky of more than $300 each year for every man, woman and child.

“Tobacco has been a big part of Kentucky’s culture throughout its history, and the result has been an increase in tobacco use and a corresponding increase in all the adverse health and economic consequences,” Holsinger said.  “Many people don’t know that, in addition to cancer and emphysema, smoking can also cause, worsen or increase a person’s risk for infertility, osteoporosis, cataracts and myriad other illnesses that will decrease life expectancy and life quality.”

The tobacco forums will have a format similar to the 2004 obesity forums held around the state.  Facilitators will lead small groups in discussion of various tobacco-related issues and collect information from participants that will be used to develop community profiles and recommendations to help decrease the rate of smoking.

 “We recognize that individuals are responsible for their behavior. Still, as a state, we must also make some larger societal changes to help support healthy environments and implement sound policies that encourage people to make healthy choices,” Holsinger said. “That can best be accomplished at the community level where neighbors can help neighbors.”

The tobacco report and regional forums are funded by a grant from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Letters of invitation to attend the forums were recently sent to members of the Kentucky Medical Association, mayors, county judge-executives, school principals, legislators and other community leaders.  However, Holsinger said anyone interesting in helping reduce the use of tobacco may attend the free, public forums.

To register online, go to:

Carl Perkins Community Center
Highway 32
Morehead, KY 40351 Aug. 23, 2005 11 am - 3 pm EDST
Lunch provided

Jenny Wiley State Park
75 Theatre Court
Prestonsburg, KY 41653-9799  Aug. 25, 2005 11 am - 3 pm EDST
Lunch provided

Northern Kentucky
The Marquise Conference and Banquet Center
Town Drive
Wilder, KY 41076  Sept. 7, 2005 1 pm - 5 pm EDST
Snacks provided

Holiday Inn North
1950 Newtown Pike
Lexington, KY 40508  Sept. 9, 2005 1 pm - 5 pm EDST
Snacks provided

Center for Rural Development
2292 South Highway 27, Suite 300
Somerset, KY 42501-2905 Sept. 13, 2005 1 pm - 5 pm EDST
Snacks provided

Bowling Green
Holiday Inn, University Plaza
1021 Wilkinson Trace
Bowling Green, KY 42103 Sept. 15, 2005 11 am - 3 pm CDST
Lunch provided

Clarion Conference Center
9700 Blue Grass Parkway
Louisville, KY 40299-1904  Sept. 20, 2005 9 am - 1 pm EDST
Breakfast provided

Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center for the Performing Arts
100 Kentucky Avenue
Paducah, KY 42001  Sept. 22, 2005 11 am - 3 pm CDST
Lunch provided

Experimental Theatre at River Park
101 Daviess Street
Owensboro, KY 42302  Sept. 27, 2005 11 am - 3 pm CDST
Lunch provided



Last Updated 8/18/2005