One major Kentucky health issue is literally home-grown: Our long history of growing tobacco is reflected in the fact that we lead the nation in the number of adult and teenage smokers per capita—and the number of lung cancer deaths per capita. This program spotlights two community projects aimed at lowering the smoking rate:
The Tobacco Free Academy concentrates on prevention. Sponsored by the Ashland Boyd County Health Department, the academy is a free two-hour program for students in grades 4, 5, and 6 that’s designed to ensure that they’ll never get started smoking. It features attention-grabbing displays, from X-rays of real smokers’ lungs to a six-foot-tall “big cig” used in a presentation on refusal skills, as well as interactive stations where kids learn about the harm smoking does to various parts of the body.
For adults who have already started smoking and want to quit, the Cooper-Clayton Method offers personalized help. The comprehensive three-phase program was developed by dental surgeon Thomas Cooper, who had tried to quit smoking several times, and addiction expert Richard Clayton, a neighbor who helped him tackle the problem through science and friendly encouragement. The approach they developed, now offered statewide by the Kentucky Cancer Program, combines those elements into a method that has proven to be twice as effective as trying to quit on one’s own.
In recent years, several Kentucky communities have passed or considered smoke-free initiatives. To conclude this program, we take a look at some of those efforts and explore what they mean for public health as well as for the economy.