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KY Officials: New Tobacco Products May Further Confuse Public

Tobacco use costs Kentucky an estimated $1 billion a year in direct health-care expenses. (Adobe Stock)
Tobacco use costs Kentucky an estimated $1 billion a year in direct health-care expenses. (Adobe Stock)
March 3, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new heat-not-burn tobacco product called IQOS for sale in the U.S., but some Kentucky public-health officials say consumers are being left in the dark when it comes to knowing what the side effects and long-term health risks of new products are.

Elizabeth Anderson-Hoagland, health promotion section supervisor with the Kentucky Department for Public Health, noted the tobacco industry is focused on creating more high-tech purported alternatives to traditional cigarettes.

"The more products introduced in the marketplace, the more confused the public is going to be," Anderson-Hoagland said. "Because, how do you keep straight what tobacco product is what, what the side effects are, what the consequences of use are?"

She said low-income Kentuckians tend to disproportionately use tobacco products. According to the latest state data, 46% of low-income adults and 42% of those with less than a high-school education currently smoke cigarettes.

Bonnie Hackbarth, vice president for external affairs with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said the state takes in close to $500 million a year in tobacco-tax revenues. Big tobacco spends another $280 million marketing its products in the Commonwealth, yet Kentucky spends only $3.3 million annually on helping people quit.

Hackbarth said she doesn't think that's enough.

"And we need to be able to have more funding to reach these kids with prevention programs, and also to help adult tobacco users quit," she said.

The state's Department for Public Health currently runs three quitline services and also offers free nicotine replacement therapy for people who are uninsured or are on Medicare.

Disclosure: Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Health Issues, Smoking Prevention, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY