Other states more
aggressive with anti-smoking campaigns
While Kentucky school and tobacco prevention advocates struggle
to solve the problem of youth smoking, states like Florida and
California have created a huge dent in the number of young
In 1998 Florida launched a youth-led statewide mass media
campaign that included television and billboard ads, hiring school
tobacco counselors, developing tobacco education courses and holding
rallies with T-shirt giveaways and other gimmicks. The initiative
was financed with part of a $13 billion settlement that Florida had
with tobacco companies.
It paid off. Florida youth smoking rates were lowered by 60
percent among middle school students and 42.7 percent in high
"We are seeing that these campaigns can be extremely effective
for kids," said Patrick Reynolds, founder and director of the
Foundation for a Smokefree America. "It's a shame that Kentucky
ranks among the last in tobacco funding. It's a real betrayal of
Kentucky has $2.7 million earmarked toward tobacco prevention
funding, much less than the $20 million suggested by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kentucky ranks 37th in
the nation in its tobacco prevention spending.
Kentucky collects about $250 million from tobacco taxes and
tobacco settlement payments. The $2.7 million is dispersed to state
health departments that allocate money toward local community
tobacco prevention programs, said Irene Centers, program manager for
the state's Tobacco and Prevention and Cessation Program.
In Northern Kentucky, schools offer alternatives to suspension
and detention, said Andrea Starr senior health educator with the
Northern Kentucky Health Department. One program offers students
eight one-hour sessions on tobacco education and an eight-week
voluntary cessation program for youths in grades 7-12.
"It's just really teaching healthy lifestyles," said Centers.
"There isn't one size fits all, particularly when you're trying to
quit smoking. Most people will try to quit at least six to eight
times before they actually do."
Reynolds travels the country speaking about smoking prevention.
Aside from a media campaign, the best way to engage youth in the
dangers of smoking is to give them the responsibility for their own
health, he said.
"Condition your kids that they are responsible, program them," he
said. "Later when they get a little older, you can say, 'Honey, I'm
not worried about you smoking because I know how responsible you
are,'" he said.
Reach Raviya H. Ismail at (859) 231-3342,
1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3342, or rismail@herald-leader. com