Ever since tobacco was introduced to European colonists centuries ago, Kentuckians have been dying from smoking-related illnesses at the highest rates in America. And because tobacco’s been such a linchpin of our economy, efforts to seriously attack the problem have been mostly lacking.

But this week, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky – a major state health policy group – released the results of a poll showing that 71 percent of Kentuckians now support a statewide smoking ban in most public places. That’s nearly three out of every four adults -- the highest level of support for such a measure in Commonwealth history -- and represents a big increase from only 54 percent just six years ago.

Even better, the Foundation plans to act on this new information to lobby for new legislation that would not only impose such a ban, but also raise our currently low cigarette tax from 60 cents a pack to $1.60, which would still be below the national average.

But extra revenue’s not the point.  The real hope would be that this added disincentive would result in even more people quitting the habit for good, drastically improving the currently dismal state of public health in Kentucky.

Let’s face it – smoking is simply suicide stretched out over an extended period of time. And I applaud the efforts of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky to do whatever it takes to curb such madness.

I’m Bill Lamb and that’s my Point of View.

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