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SCOTUS begins issuing new opinions, with another expected related to the power of federal agencies, the battleground state of Wisconsin gets a ruling on alternative voting sites, and coastal work is being done to help salt marshes withstand hurricanes.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Report: Kentucky’s Slow Drag on Kicking the Habit

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Monday, December 19, 2011   

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Health advocates in Kentucky believe a statewide smoking ban is part of the answer to improving the state's national rankings in helping smokers kick the habit. The American Lung Association (ALA) says in a new report that Kentucky lags behind a number of other states in providing smoking cessation and treatment programs.

Betsy Berns Janes, director of advocacy for the ALA of Kentucky, thinks education efforts and constituent feedback to lawmakers about the benefits of a statewide smoke-free law for indoor public places are making headway.

"So, the real challenge, I think, is going to be to pass a strong bill that protects all workers in all places, without exception."

Jodi Mitchell, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, wants the state to become "quit-friendly."

"We support a comprehensive approach to tobacco cessation, including statewide smoke-free policy, affording Kentuckians the ability to breathe clean air, and we still have a long way to go for that."

In recent years, Kentucky passed legislation to fund smoking cessation benefits under its Medicaid program, but Mitchell says the recent switch to managed care has made it unclear which companies will cover which drugs and counseling services for Medicaid recipients.

"So it's important that unrestricted access be provided to the seven medications and three types of counseling services - and I want to emphasize medications and counseling - recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service."

State Representative Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat, plans to file a bill in the upcoming session to ban smoking in indoor public places. More than 30 local communities across Kentucky have smoke-free laws, 20 of which resemble what health advocates want to see on the state level.

Smoking-related illnesses claim the lives of 8,000 Kentuckians and cost the Medicaid program about $500 million a year.

The full report is at www.lungusa.org




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