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Tobacco Marketing Blows Away Prevention Efforts in Kentucky

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RYOT
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Kentucky is spending $2.5 million this year on tobacco prevention, 36th in the nation, according to a new report.

But, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reveals tobacco companies are blowing that effort away spending an estimated $292.8 million on marketing their products in the state.

Amy Barkley is the Campaign's Mid-Atlantic Region Director in Kentucky.

"That is about 117 or 118 times more money than we, the state, spend to discourage smoking among kids and to help smokers quit," says Barkley. "So, it's really penny wise and pound foolish."

Barkley says smoking costs the state more than $1.9 billion a year in health care costs.

According to the report, Kentucky will take in $302 million this year from tobacco taxes and the tobacco settlement. But, the state is spending less than five percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends spending on prevention $56.4 million.

Barkley says that's a mistake in a state where smoking causes 8,900 deaths a year.

"Why wouldn't we spend $56 million a year of tobacco revenue on this problem that costs us $2 billion," she says. "It's really an investment that Kentucky has failed to take year after year."

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, nearly 18 percent of high school students in Kentucky smoke, while more than one in four adults smoke (26.5 percent).

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