Editorial: Drug Deadlier Than Heroin Killing Kentucky

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Posted by . See more posts about: Health Impact, Smoke Free Policy

JOURNAL TIMES | OPED | JANUARY 14, 2015

Today we add our voice to that growing chorus calling for tougher laws to solve our state’s heroin problem.

At the same time, we challenge the General Assembly to address an even deadlier addictive substance that kills more Kentuckians each year than all other drugs combined.

This drug can be delivered by inhaling fumes which, in turn, produce an instant reaction with receptors in the brain to create addiction.

The drug is not new but it is a tough habit to kick, despite widespread knowledge that its continued use is life-threatening.

If you haven’t already figured it out, we’re referring to nicotine which is delivered most often through cigarettes.

Kentucky has the nation’s highest rate of smoking with more than one-fourth of adults admitting to lighting up.

So what does that mean in terms of human impact in our state?

Let’s start with the statistic that almost 9,000 Kentucky adults died from smoking-related diseases in a recent 12-month period.

In the same period, about 1,000 of our citizens died from drug overdoses with less than one-fourth of those attributed to heroin.

 

We’re not saying that heroin and other illegal drugs are not serious dangers. Every reasonable person should be well aware of that fact.

But what we are saying is that smoking also is a serious addiction problem that must be addressed.

The U. S. surgeon general shocked the nation in 1964 with the scientific conclusion that smoking causes lung cancer.

Another surgeon general came along in 1988 and declared that nicotine is an addictive drug in the same category as heroin and cocaine.

Heroin abuse is a relatively new threat to public health in Kentucky. It must be battled as effectively as pain killers.

A small but effective first step against tobacco would be for the General Assembly to adopt a statewide, smoke-free law, as have 24 other states.

 

Read the article online.