The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Kansas spends over a billion dollars a year in healthcare costs directly linked to smoking. The state once had one of the nation’s lowest percentages of smokers, but decline hasn’t been as rapid as other states – it now ranks 25th in the nation.
The CDC says nearly seven percent of middle and high school students have tried e-cigarettes, and more than two percent are current users. Erika Sward, of the American Lung Association, says the rapid growth is due in large part to an aggressive marketing campaign.
“We’ve seen glamorized ads on TV. We’ve seen flavors that come in e-cigarettes now of bubble gum and cotton candy. All of the traditional tobacco industry playbook for targeting kids has been used by the e-cigarette industry.”
Kansas has lots of work to do to improve its "grades" on tobacco control, according to a new report card from the American Lung Association.
Kansas gets an “A” for its Clean Indoor Air Act. However, the state gets a “D” for the relatively low rate of taxes on tobacco, and an “F” for efforts to prevent tobacco use, and to help those already using it to quit.
“It’s not a whole lot different than last year, but it’s woefully accurate,”says Linda DeCoursey, head of the non-profit Tobacco-Free Kansas Coalition.
Butler Community College leaders are considering a proposal to ban smoking and tobacco on all of its campuses. A task force presented its findings last week to the college's Board of Trustees. The board could vote on the issue in March.
Butler currently bans smoking inside campus buildings, but smoking is allowed outside 25 feet from the buildings. Bill Rinkenbaugh, one of the school's vice presidents, estimates the college would spend between $25,000 - $30,000 on signs and educational materials to implement the ban.
About a dozen Kansas colleges have banned tobacco.