(LOUISVILLE, KY - June 15, 2018) The national Youth Risk Behavior Survey results for 2017 were published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report here, allowing comparison of Kentucky’s high school students (9th through 12th grades) with those in other states and nationwide. Among the results for tobacco use:
Published trend data for Kentucky does not include all the above measures. Among those results:
Here is a statement regarding these results from Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky president and CEO Ben Chandler:
“Kentucky high schoolers use tobacco at significantly higher rates than the rest of the nation. Most adult smoking habits are hard-wired by age 18, so these rates form the fountainhead for our high adult tobacco use and our ranking as cancer capital of the nation.
“The cigarette smoking rate for Kentucky high schoolers remains 62 percent above the national average, and nearly twice as many use smokeless tobacco. A third more Kentucky youth are dual users, which exacerbates their exposure to nicotine and the damage tobacco use does to their developing brains.
“Kentucky’s youth tobacco prevention efforts are to be credited for our downward trend in youth tobacco use. But our progress is slower than in other states. And the explosion in teen popularity of new e-cigarette products threatens to undermine all the progress we’ve made by hooking teens on nicotine products that are proven gateways to smoking. How sad it would be if we ended up back where we were a generation ago!
“Tobacco-related illness already costs the Commonwealth 8,900 lives and $1.92 billion a year in health care expenditures. And even with the progress we’ve made, 119,000 kids currently under age 18 will die prematurely from smoking. That’s nearly a thousand kids per county in Kentucky!
“We have proven measures to ensure the trend in youth tobacco use continues downward, but we have to have the courage to enact them and the common sense to fund them. We need smoke-free laws, higher tobacco taxes, including taxes on new tobacco products, and more youth tobacco prevention funding.”
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $27 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth