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February 10, 2018

Nearly six in 10 Kentucky adults favor raising the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 years, according to the Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

A bill to raise the legal age to 21 was last introduced in 2016 and passed out of committee, but never made it to the floor for a vote.A bill to raise the legal age to 21 was last introduced in 2016 and passed out of committee, but never made it to the floor for a vote.

The survey, taken Oct. 24-Dec. 2, found that 58 percent of Kentucky adults favored such a law and 39 percent opposed it, with majority support from both Democrats (63 percent) and Republicans (56 percent). Support among independents was 46 percent. Support was strongest in the Louisville and Lexington areas and lowest in Northern Kentucky.

“Most smoking starts before kids turn 21, so if we can dramatically reduce purchases before that age, we have a much greater chance of preventing adult smoking,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsors the poll.

To date, five states — California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon — have raised the age to buy tobacco to 21, along with 285 cities and counties across the nation, according to release.

Anyone 18 and older can legally buy tobacco and vapor products in Kentucky, and the state’s law doesn’t allow that age to be adjusted by “local law, ordinance or regulation,” says the release.

A bill has been introduced to eliminate that prohibition. Senate Bill 93, sponsored by Republican Sens. Julie Raque Adams of Louisville and Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington, “would repeal that prohibition and allow cities and counties to adopt stricter tobacco display and sales regulations than enacted at the statewide level,” says the release.

A bill to raise the legal age to 21 was last introduced in 2016 and passed out of committee, but never made it to the floor for a vote.

The release notes that the recently formed Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow, chaired by Chandler, supports this legislation.

“Raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products is a research-based method to keep kids from starting, and helps protect their right to breathe smoke-free air and grow up in a tobacco-free environment,” said Chandler.

According to the 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 16.9 percent of high school students in Kentucky smoke, which is twice the national average rate of 8 percent for the same year. The most recent 2017 survey shows Kentucky’s teen smoking rate has dropped to 14.3 percent. However, youth use of electronic cigarettes has increased.

Approximately 90 percent of adults who are daily smokers report they first smoked before they turned 19; and 2,900 youth under the age of 18 become new daily smokers every year in Kentucky, according to the release.

The poll is funded by the foundation and Interact for Health, a Cincinnati-area foundation. It surveyed a random sample of 1,692 Kentucky adults via landlines and cell pones. The margin of error for each statewide result is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

From Kentucky Health News


February 2, 2018

New Online Program Designed to Connect Kentuckians to SUD Treatment Centers

Website promoted in conjunction with ‘Don’t Let Them Die’ high school marketing and awareness campaign


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 2, 2018) – Gov. Matt Bevin today announced a new tool in Kentucky’s fight against the opioid epidemic. allows users to search in real-time for a local substance use disorder (SUD) treatment center and will be promoted as part of the Governor’s ‘Don’t Let Them Die’ campaign, which seeks to bring awareness to the opioid crisis.

“Kentucky is stepping up, ready to lead the nation as we address the opioid problem that plagues so many,” said Gov. Bevin. “We must all work together to solve this crisis.” acts as a search engine for individuals seeking a SUD treatment facility for themselves or family members. Users can locate facilities based on geographic location, facility type, and type of treatment needed.

The search results also identify which facilities have current openings for patients. The website is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

“Near real-time availability of SUD treatment openings will significantly reduce the time spent by the public, healthcare providers, and other healthcare professionals searching for treatment openings by matching available treatment with individual needs,” said Dr. Terry Bunn, director of KIPRC.

As part of the launch of the new website, in partnership with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, WLKY-TV will sponsor the ‘Find Help Now KY’/‘Don’t Let Them Die’ integrated marketing and advertising campaign challenge for high school students. The contest will raise awareness about the dangers of drug use and addiction and will encourage students to create original campaign advertisements to promote the ‘Don’t Let Them Die’ and ‘Find Help Now’ websites. The winning advertisements will be incorporated in the Commonwealth’s opioid awareness marketing campaign.

“Information is critical in the fight against opioids, and the high school challenge will allow students across Kentucky to become actively engaged in raising awareness about the dangers of opioid addiction,” said Andrea Stahlman, news director for WLKY.

“We are excited to unleash the resources of ‘Don’t Let Them Die’ and ‘Find Help Now KY,’" said Gov. Bevin. "By allowing the enthusiasm, intellect and creativity of high school students to aid us in this fight, we are giving them the opportunity to make a lasting impression on their peers about the dangers of opioid abuse. We will lead the way in eradicating the opioid epidemic, because we are Kentucky."

More information regarding the contest, including complete rules and guidelines, can be found at


January 25, 2018


The Kentucky Department for Public Health now describes influenza activity in Kentucky as an epidemic. This season’s strain of the flu virus can be extremely serious, even deadly, not just for those in higher risk categories but to generally healthy Kentuckians as well.

Kentucky is in its sixth consecutive week of widespread flu activity which is the highest level of flu activity and indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state.

“Widespread influenza activity means that Kentuckians are likely to encounter one or more persons shedding influenza virus at work, at school, while shopping, while traveling, at athletic or entertainment events, and in places of worship,” said the Acting Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey D. Howard. “A person who will develop influenza illness actually can transmit the virus to other persons beginning one day before their illness begins.”

The most common flu type identified in Kentucky and in 78% of the 65 influenza-associated deaths this season is influenza A. Of the deaths so far, 7% have occurred in previously healthy individuals with no reported risk factors for severe illness. Healthy persons with influenza also will usually miss three to five days of work, school, or other usual activities, and sometimes may miss seven to 10 days.

“Pneumonia, bacterial bloodstream infections, and sepsis are examples of serious influenza-related complications that may require hospitalization and sometimes result in death of healthy people with no known risk factors for serious illness,” added Department for Public Health’s State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jonathan Ballard. “Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu. We especially recommend that all healthy Kentuckians aged six months and older be vaccinated. The flu season typically runs until late spring so it is not too late to get vaccinated.”

It takes about 2 weeks following the administration of the vaccine for the recipient to develop protection from the flu. There are ample supplies available throughout the state. Vaccinations are available at Kentucky’s local health departments, pharmacies, and medical providers. Many health plans cover the cost of the vaccine with no copay.

Health officials invite the public to participate in a Facebook Live discussion about the flu on the CHFS Facebook page Thursday night at 6 p.m. eastern, 5 p.m. central. You can submit flu questions beforehand t This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post your question in the comments section during the event.

The flu can be highly contagious and cause potentially life-threatening disease. Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. Persons who develop flu symptoms should seek medical advice to determine if they should be treated with an antiviral drug, which could shorten the course of the illness or reduce its severity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these tips to stop the spread of germs:

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

• If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

“Recently the CDC issued a health advisory recommending antiviral treatment to all hospitalized and high-risk persons with suspected influenza and that benefits of antiviral medications are observed even when treatment is initiated beyond two days of illness onset,” concluded Dr. Ballard.

Influenza virus can also directly infect the heart and can cause severe and potentially fatal acute changes in the heart’s rhythm and function.

Those same serious and potentially fatal complications can also occur in people at high risk for developing influenza-related complications. Persons at high-risk include children younger than five years (but especially children younger than two years), adults aged 65 years and older, pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum), residents of nursing homes and other longer term facilities, and persons with chronic illnesses (e.g., asthma and chronic respiratory illnesses, neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions, heart disease, blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease), diabetes, kidney and liver disorders, weakened immune system due to disease like cancer or medications, persons younger than 19 years who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and people with extreme obesity (body mass index of 40 or more).

DPH officials report weekly to the CDC national flu surveillance system. The weekly report is now available online at and is updated each Friday before noon.

From Kentucky Department for Public Health