Kansas can do more to discourage smoking

smokingteenKansas’ 2010 passage of a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants and other indoor spaces has been good for residents’ health. But Kansas ranks 41st among states for per capita spending on tobacco prevention and smoking cessation ($1 million annually) while spending $200 million a year to treat smoking-related diseases among KanCare recipients, according to a new report from anti-smoking groups. If state leaders wanted to do more to address such numbers, they could increase the 79 cents-per-pack cigarette tax, which is 36th in the nation. “We know that raising the price of cigarettes makes it less likely that youth will be smokers,” Jeff Willett, vice president of programs for the Kansas Health Foundation, told the Topeka Capital-Journal. The governor and lawmakers also could devote more of the multistate tobacco settlement proceeds to smoking prevention (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend Kansas spend $32 million a year). Most obviously, they could close the hypocritical loophole that continues to allow smoking at state-owned casinos.