Kentuckians with lower incomes are much more likely to try e-cigarettes, new poll shows

foundation for a healthy KYDespite warnings that e-cigarettes can be harmful, nearly 40 percent of Kentuckians age 18-45 have tried an e-cig, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). In fact, Kentuckians with lower incomes also were about 74 percent more likely to have tried vaping than those with higher incomes.

“Research suggests that e-cigs may be a gateway to using other forms of tobacco, and they can be just as harmful,” Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said in a news release. “They expose users to toxic chemicals, including nicotine, which long has been proven to be addictive and responsible for a wide range of health issues. E-cigs are simply not a safe alternative to smoking, especially for young adults and nonsmokers.”

KHIP also asked opinions about the safety of e-cigarettes. About three in 10 Kentucky adults thought e-cigs were safer than tobacco cigarettes, and 19 percent thought they were less safe. A much larger proportion – 45 percent – thought there was no difference in safety between the two.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report in December 2016 stating that the use of e-cigarettes by youth and young adults often leads to cigarette smoking, other tobacco use and nicotine addiction, with all the health dangers associated with nicotine addiction. The agency raised concerns that e-cig marketers have been using tactics that attract youth and young adults and said that the incidence of this age group trying e-cigs doubled from 2013 to 2014, the latest date for which data was available. The U.S. Surgeon General has called the rising use of e-cigarettes among young adults a “major public health problem.”

To see the full KHIP report on e-smoking, please click here.


Kentucky once again tops the list of U.S. adult smoking rates

CDC imageOnce again, Kentucky ranks first for its adult smoking rates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the report, Kentucky retook the top spot from West Virginia in 2015 with an adult smoking rate of 25.9 percent; West Virginia’s is 25.7 percent, followed closely by Arkansas at 24.9 percent.

Smoking rates have declined across the nation almost 28 percent since 2005, from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 15.1 percent in 2015, according to the report, which is based on the 2015 National Health Interview Survey. Kentucky’s smoking rates declined 10 percent in the same time frame, from 28.7 percent to 25.9 percent, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a constant national poll conducted by the CDC.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S., accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or one of every five deaths,” says the CDC.

The state’s high smoking rate also comes with a hefty price tag, as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates Kentucky’s smoking-related health costs at $1.92 billion a year. The group ranks Kentucky 37th in protecting children from tobacco, and says 17 percent of its high school students smoke.


FDA moves to regulate e-cigarettes and ban all sales to minors

No Smoking SignThe federal government on Thursday moved to regulate the e-cigarette industry – including banning electronic cigarette sales to minors – and required all tobacco products to undergo government review, even many already on the market.

E-cigarettes, along with similarly categorized devices such as vaporizers and vape pens, will be regulated as tobacco products because they use a liquid containing nicotine.

The new rule from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implements the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed by Congress in 2009. Why has it taken so long to get this rule passed, if Congress acted six years ago? Well, according to Kaiser Health News: “In December 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the FDA could not regulate electronic cigarettes as a drug or a device but only as a tobacco product. That meant the government could oversee their marketing but not restrict their sale, except to minors. It’s unclear why the FDA needed more than five additional years to issue a final rule.”

Click here to read the full FAQ from Kaiser Health News.


CDC offers tips for mental health care professionals to help their patients quit smoking

CDC imageAs part of its “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a set of resources for mental health professionals to help their patients fight tobacco use and quit smoking.

Studies show that people with mental health conditions are more likely to smoke than those who don’t, according to the CDC website. They suggest that primary care providers (PCPs) and mental health care providers should routinely screen patients for tobacco use and offer evidence-based smoking cessation treatments.

To help them with these conversations, the CDC has provided a set of documents and resources to help explain how mental health care professionals can get involved and support their patients, offers suggestions about how to conduct a brief tobacco intervention, shares important reasons to quit smoking, and more. These are available online by clicking here.


FDA expands “Real Cost” campaign about smokeless tobacco to focus on rural white male teenagers

real talk graphicThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a new campaign on the dangers of smokeless tobacco among rural teens, expanding its “The Real Cost” campaign “to educate rural, white male teenagers about the negative health consequences associated with smokeless tobacco use.”

The FDA’s Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study found that 31.84 percent of rural, white males ages 12 to 17 — about 629,000 total youths — either experiment with smokeless tobacco or are at-risk.

The central message in “The Real Cost” Smokeless Tobacco Prevention Campaign is “smokeless doesn’t mean harmless,” which aims to motivate these teenagers to reconsider what they think they know about smokeless tobacco use.

“For the first time, messages on the dangers of smokeless tobacco use — including nicotine addiction, gum disease, tooth loss, and multiple kinds of cancer — are being highlighted through the placement of advertisements in 35 U.S. markets specifically selected to reach the campaign’s target audience,” according to a news release from the FDA.

“The Real Cost” campaign launched nationally in February 2014 across multiple media platforms including TV, radio, print, digital, and out-of-home sites. It currently airs in 35 markets, including Lexington and Paducah in Kentucky.


CDC lists top 10 U.S. public health issues

CDC imageThe U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control has updated its Prevention Status Reports, which ranks the biggest U.S. public health issues.

The Prevention Status Reports organize information on state public health policies and practices in a format that is easy to use for public health professionals, community leaders, and policy makers. The reports allow these individuals to understand their state’s status and identify improvement areas.

According to the reports, the 10 most important public health problems and concerns are (listed alphabetically):

  • Alcohol-related harms
  • Food safety
  • Healthcare-associated infections
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • HIV
  • Motor vehicle injury
  • Nutrition, physician activity and obesity
  • Prescription drug overdose
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Tobacco use

The Prevention Status Reports website also features an interactive map, tables summarizing state data and fact sheets. To learn more, click here.


Conference planned to talk about Kentucky youth’s use of e-cigarettes

No Smoking SignA conference to understand e-cigarettes and their effects on young Kentucky residents will be held at the London Community Center in Laurel County on March 24.

The program, called “Project e-Prevent,” will look at evidence-based information regarding e-cigarettes, analyze the association between e-cigarettes and nicotine addiction, discuss policy recommendations from medical and scientific authorities, discuss e-cigarette laws and enforcement, and clarify 100-percent-tobacco-free school policy.

The program is free and offers continuing education credits, but registration is required by March 11. Click here to see the full agenda or to register, or call 606-864-1432 for additional information.


Use of electronic cigarettes among middle school and high school students increases dramatically

CDC imageThe number of students in middle school and high school who use electronic cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014, surpassing the total amount of teen use of all tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and federal officials are blaming unrestricted advertising.

According to the CDC’s 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, e-cigarette use by high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, and from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014 for middle school students. That amounts to about 2 million high school students and 450,000 middle school students smoking e-cigarettes.

Seven out of 10 middle-school and high-school students (69 percent) say they’ve seen e-cigarette ads in stores, online or in other media, with most of the ads using the same themes that have been used to sell traditional cigarettes for years: sex, independence and rebellion, according to a recent CDC report.

“The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in an online statement.

To read the Kentucky Health News report of this study, please click here. To see the “Vital Signs” report that attributes the increase in e-cigarette use in youth with the increase in e-cigarette advertising, please click here.


More than 162,000 Kentuckians on Medicaid use tobacco, but less than 1 in 5 use smoking-cessation benefits to try to quit

No Smoking SignTen percent of Kentuckians on Medicaid are dependent on tobacco, but fewer than 2 percent are using Medicaid to quit, according to a report from Kentucky Health News.

In 2015, only 17.2 percent of Medicaid recipients used smoking-cessation medications, even though such meds are available to them at little to no cost. Only 1.4 percent of received smoking-cessation counseling, according to data from the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Almost $600 million of Kentucky’s annual Medicaid expenses are for smoking-related illnesses, Ashli Watts of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce said on Kentucky Educational Television in October.

The chamber wants the General Assembly to pass a statewide ban on smoking in workplaces as a way to save money for taxpayers and employers. “We can simply no longer afford to ignore this issue,” Watts said. “Smoking is not only killing us, it is bankrupting us.”

Passport Health Plan members seeking information about how to quit smoking can call Passport at 1-800-578-0603 or the Kentucky Quit Now Support Line at 1-800-784-8669.


Annual Great American Smokeout planned for this week to help encourage smokers to ‘Quit Like a Champion’

Great American Smokeout GraphicThe Great American Smokeout, a day when smokers are encouraged to quit for the day and make a plan to quit for good, is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 19. This remains especially important in Kentucky, which has the highest rates of lung cancer and deaths from it, and where more than one in four adults smoke, the second highest rate in the nation.

The American Cancer Society has coordinated the Smokeout on every third Thursday in November since 1976. It is estimated that this annual event has helped change Americans’ attitudes about smoking, and probably saved millions of lives.

According to the Cancer Society, “about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. As of 2013, there were also 12.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and over 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.”

For more information about the Great American Smokeout, including a guide to quitting smoking, please click here.