Extinguishing the Tobacco Epidemic in Kentucky
Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States, despite a significant decline in the number of people who smoke. Over 16 million Americans have at least one disease caused by smoking. This amounts to $170 billion in direct medical costs that could be saved every year if we could prevent youth from starting to smoke and help every person who smokes to quit.
In 2017, 26.0% of Kentucky high school youth reported currently using any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. Among Kentucky high school youth, 14.3% reported currently smoking cigarettes.
Was received from CDC for tobacco prevention and control activities in FY 2019
In 2015, Kentucky’s tobacco control program was one of five states to participate in a pilot program where CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers™ (Tips)™ ads promoted the availability of free nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) for individuals who called the state quitline. People are more likely to quit successfully if they have access to counseling and medications, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). State quitlines allow smokers to call and receive free counseling to help them quit smoking, as well as free NRT in many states. As a result of Kentucky’s pilot program, NRT utilization rates for quitline callers increased by 821% during this two-week period. In addition, call volume to the quitline increased by 150%. After the pilot ended, Kentucky’s tobacco control program decided to continue to provide free NRT for an additional eight weeks for all callers who enrolled in counseling. The quitline has continued to experience high call volumes. Due to the implementation of a new tobacco cessation law which mandates Medicaid, Managed Care Organizations, and Commercial Insurance provide barrier-free tobacco cessation benefits, Kentucky is now offering free NRT to uninsured and Medicare callers.
Kentucky is one of 50 states plus DC that receives funding and technical support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support comprehensive tobacco control efforts and quitlines. The Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) is the lead federal agency for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control. For decades, OSH has led public health efforts to prevent young people from using tobacco and to help all tobacco users to quit.
Despite significant progress, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the US. The good news is that 7 out of 10 smokers want to quit smoking. That is why since 2012 CDC has been educating the public about the consequences of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke and encouraging smokers to quit through a federally funded, national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers®. The campaign features former smokers suffering from the real consequences of smoking.
The Tips® campaign connects smokers with resources to help them quit, including a quitline number (1-800-QUIT-NOW) which routes callers to their state quitline. The Kentucky quitline provides free cessation services, including counseling and medication. These services are effective in improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.
“I was thinking about relapsing today and the new commercials came on. It changed my mind real fast. You don’t understand the power of these commercials until you have made the decision to quit. Terrie Hall makes me cry every time . . . that could easily be me.”
–Justin: January 2016
Incoming calls to the Kentucky state quitline increased by an average 116% during the 2019 Tips® campaign. The Kentucky state quitline received a total of 6,149 calls from April 23rd – October 8th during the 2019 Tips® campaign.
Tobacco prevention and control activities are a public health “best buy.” Evidence-based, statewide tobacco control programs that are comprehensive, sustained, and accountable have been shown to reduce the number of people who smoke, as well as tobacco-related diseases and deaths. For every dollar spent on tobacco prevention, states can reduce tobacco-related health care expenditures and hospitalizations by up to $55. The longer and more states invest, the larger the reductions in youth and adult smoking. A comprehensive statewide tobacco control program includes efforts to: