TO: SENATOR SULL I. VAN.
SUBJECT: TOBACCO IS THE NUMBER ONE PUBLIC HEALTH THREAT IN KENTUCKY
DATE: 17 FEBRUARY 2011
Smoking of cigarettes has been the number one major cause of chronic diseases like cancers, deaths and has increased the cost of health to both the smokers and non-smokers in Kentucky.
Annually, over 8000 people die of tobacco consumption in Kentucky alone as compared to other states (Centre for disease control and prevention, 2010). In Kentucky it has been found that, people start to smoke at a very young, therefore leading to premature deaths. This has led to a very huge economy loss to both health and the general population of Kentucky.
In order to reduce this rate of tobacco consumption, certain measures must be put into place. To reduce smoking at a very young age vigorous campaigns to educate the youth on the harmful effects of tobacco must be done and ban of any media advertisement of this tobacco products. The education can be done through print or electronic media and every now and then, seminars can be conducted at schools to educate the students. This will reduce the rate of tobacco consumption for both the youth and the adults of the future. This means that the current rate of 15.9% of the youth age 12-17 will gradually drop to about 10% (Jacobson, 2001).
In addition to this, laws should be put to reduce selling of cigarettes to the under aged. When an adult is found selling or buying on behalf of youth, he should be fined heavily or be imprisoned. This will reduce the accessibility of the cigarettes to the youth hence reducing the rate of teenage smoking. In addition, it will reduce more than 50% of the young smokers for both who want to begin and those that are already smoking (Jacobson, 2001). Moreover, price units of tobacco product should be raised making it even difficult for the teenagers to buy reducing the accessibility of the products in the end.
Another law, which should be introduced, is the licensing of these vendors. This will help in the control of the sale of tobacco products to the under aged. In addition, the use of vending machines to sell these products should be abolished in the whole of Kentucky and not just part of it. Vending machines do not have control on who to sell and who not to sell the products to. This promotes under age sale of tobacco products. It will be greatly realized that when this is done, the ability of teenagers to attain the products will be reduced tremendously.
Another group that has been affected by the tobacco products is the non-smokers. They are usually at a very high risk of being affected by the respiratory diseases and even the heart diseases. It is estimated that 20-30% of the non-smokers are exposed to these diseases in Kentucky. In order to reduce this, certain rules and regulations must be introduced in Kentucky. The law of smoke free air act should be imposed to all the cities and not some, in the whole of Kentucky. If one is found violating these laws, he should be fined heavily or even be imprisoned because he is putting the life of other non-smokers at risk of diseases.
Additionally, smoking in schools, private vehicles, buildings and homes in the presence of non-smokers should be implemented. It has been said that the number of children who are exposed to smokers is 18.2%, which is four times higher than that of adults, which is 5.4 % (Nadakavukaren, 2006). This shows that children are at a higher risk than adults are. To safeguard this, fines and imprisonment should be imposed to the offenders who violate the laws. Moreover, suing some of the smokers who violate the laws should be made possible since it is not the company’s fault that somebody smokes but it is his own choice. This will reduces both the number of times tobacco is being consumed and the risk of non-smokers getting affected.
The large group, which is also affected, is the adult smokers. In Kentucky alone, 27% of the smokers are adults as compared to the 21% of adult’s smokers in the whole country. This means that Kentucky has the highest number of adult smokers in the country as compared to the other states. This people should be educated on what ways and methods to use in order to quit smoking. It has been researched and noted that 90% of this smokers want to quit but usually they are not able to do so (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). This can be done by gradually increasing on the education of this ways of quitting smoking both in the print and electronic media. This will create awareness to smokers on the different ways of quitting and they will be able to choose the best situation in which one can afford and that which suites him.
The state of Kentucky should raise taxes on the tobacco products, which increases the price of the tobacco products in general. This can be a form of revenue collection in which the money, which is usually lost in the health by the state, can be used. It can also help in the reduction of consumption of tobacco products by both the teenagers and the adults who cannot afford the products. Therefore, this reduces the number of smokers, the chances of being affected by the different diseases and raises revenue to the state of Kentucky.
Seminars and other forms of forums should be created in order to educate the adults on how the consumption of tobacco products affects them both financially and health wise. The medical bills and the cost of buying these cigarettes if calculated can show how billions of dollars are lost every year whereas this money could be channeled elsewhere (Califano Jr., 2008). This will give the smokers a clear picture of what they are using when they buy and consume these products. This will change them in a more practical way, that is, instead of smoking; they can do something else with that money hence reducing the number of smokers in the state.
On the hand, we should not forget that there are tobacco farmers and other entrepreneurs who earn a living from the sale of these tobacco products. We should not discourage them for we are destroying there only source of income but instead we should try to motivate them also by putting measures that will favor them. When it comes to taxing, we should ensure that we do not heavily tax them but tax the end user who is the consumer and is going to cause these harmful effects.
In conclusion, to this, the premature deaths will be greatly reduced since the number of teenage smokers or those who want to begin smoking will reduce gradually. Moreover, the rate of chronic diseases, heart diseases and other diseases that are associated with smoking will also reduce. This will also lead to the reduction of money, which is used on health by the state of Kentucky. This will improve the economy and health of citizens of the state of Kentucky.
Califano Jr., A.J. (2008). High Society: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It. New York, NY: PublicAffairs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Smoking and Tobacco use. (2010). Kentucky. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/state_data/state_highlights/2010/states/kentucky/index.htm
Jacobson, P. D. (2001). Combating Teen Smoking: Research and Policy Strategies. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Nadakavukaren, A. (2006). Our global environment: a health perspective. Salem, WI: Waveland Press.
Wilson, R. and Kolander, A.C. (2010). Drug Abuse Prevention: A School and Community Partnership. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.