(LOUISVILLE, Ky., January 12, 2018) The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky invested more than $361,000 on work to reduce both tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in 2017. This commitment represented a significant expansion of the Foundation's annual budget focused on tobacco-use reduction over past years. Even so, the Foundation continued several research projects as well as its support of grantees working on a variety of other health policy issues under a five-year strategic plan just finishing its final year.
Foundation grant funding in 2017 totaled $898,600; since the Foundation launched in 2001, it has invested more than $27,364 million in Kentucky through grants.
The Foundation's tobacco-use reduction investment included 43 percent - $126,400 - of the $291,700 in total grants it gave for health policy advocacy on a variety of issues under its "Promoting Responsive Health Policy" (PRHP) initiative to the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, Kentucky Voices for Health and Kentucky Youth Advocates. Another nearly $35,000 in Foundation grants and sponsorships supported educational conferences about tobacco-related policy changes, such as increasing the tax on cigarettes, which will reduce smoking in the Commonwealth.
Grantees under the Foundation's PRHP initiative also supported policies to improve access to health care, promote the health and safety of children and youth, and strengthened local public health departments.
The remainder of the Foundation's tobacco-use reduction funding included staff time devoted to this focus area; much of their work involved coordinating and helping to launch the new Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow, which now comprises more than 140 partners and members and is led by a steering committee with representatives from Kentucky's leading health advocacy, business, and health care organizations.
"We have a great deal of work ahead of us to reduce the impact of tobacco use on health, health care expenditures, and business productivity in Kentucky," said Ben Chandler, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "We're climbing uphill against an industry that spends an estimated $250 million marketing its products in the Commonwealth, much of that money focused on youth and low-income residents. Advocates can't fight dollar-for-dollar against that kind of consumer influence, so we have focus our efforts on policy changes that research shows will have the broadest impact possible. It's a meaningful 'win' every time a single Kentuckian successfully quits smoking, yet Kentucky's greatest health gains are going to come at the county and statewide policy levels when elected officials enact policies that have been shown over and over to reduce tobacco use and improve health across entire population groups."
In addition to tobacco-reduction grants, the Foundation gave slightly more than $323,000 to seven local health coalitions which have been working in partnership with the Foundation for more than three years. These coalitions are working to improve the health of school-aged children in their communities, focusing either on helping youth maintain a healthy weight or helping children and adults better address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs, traumatic events that can lead to significant health issues in adulthood). This place-based grant initiative, called "Investing in Kentucky's Future" (IKF), required community matching funds and also provides training and other support for the health coalitions that are implementing the grants.
"These place-based community grants have resulted in dozens of policy, infrastructure and system changes that make the healthier choice the easier choice across seven Kentucky communities," said Charlie Ross, chair of the Foundation's Board of Directors. "Their achievements include policies that require new streets to be walkable and bikeable and vending machines to offer healthier options; infrastructure additions including sidewalks, walking trails, community garden spaces and playgrounds; and systems changes such as ensuring a youth voice in policymaking panels and requiring more adult training to better address childhood trauma. As this grant initiative winds down, our next step is to help other Kentucky communities benefit from what our grantees have learned."
Recognizing that well-written and researched health stories in the media can help inform and influence better public policy, the Foundation also invested nearly $103,000 in grants to expand health journalism in Kentucky.
In addition, the Foundation dedicated $128,000 to research in 2017, including its annual Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP, conducted jointly with Cincinnati-based Interact for Health) to gauge the opinions of Kentucky adults on current health policy issues. For example, 2017 KHIP reports found that support for a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law surged to 71 percent, that younger and lower-income Kentuckians are more likely to try e-cigarettes, and that 22 percent of Kentucky adults cite cost as a barrier to obtaining needed medical care.
The Foundation's research funding also supported educational events such as its Health for a Change training webinars and workshops and its annual Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum, which focused in 2017 on substance use solutions and strategies. A portion of the research funding also went to obtaining, analyzing and reporting data valuable to understanding the impact of health policies such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And more than 170 people attended the Foundation's biennial Data Forum, focused on using health data to foster innovation.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $27 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth