Latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll Also Reveals Growing Support Across Commonwealth

For Smoke-Free Policies

(LOUISVILLE, Ky – June 8, 2016) — While 11 percent more Northern Kentuckians report “excellent” or “very good” health than people living in the Commonwealth –as a whole, they’re also more likely to have difficulty paying medical bills. In addition, nearly three times as many adults in the eight-county region say their family or friends have struggled with heroin use compared to their counterparts statewide, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) regional report.

The KHIP Northern Kentucky Report also revealed that adults in the region fall in line with other Kentuckians in strongly favoring tobacco-free school campuses (85 percent) and a statewide smoke-free law (66 percent statewide; 68 percent Northern Kentucky), but are less likely to say the Affordable Care act has benefited them (23 percent statewide; 11 percent Northern Kentucky).

“Overall, what we’re finding with these reports is that an increasing number of Kentuckians have health insurance, but many are still delaying or simply can’t afford necessary health care,” said Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “We also see growing support for smoke-free policies across the Commonwealth. Kentucky adults in every region recognize that improving diet, getting more exercise and quitting smoking could help improve personal health, but the changes are difficult. Policies around these areas could help all Kentuckians improve their personal health.”

The Foundation and Cincinnati-based Interact for Health fund the annual KHIP poll. The findings, divided into five regional reports (Eastern Kentucky, Greater Lexington, Greater Louisville, Northern Kentucky,and Western Kentucky) are now available online at

“Local public health officials, health coalitions and other community leaders find these regionalized opinion polls extremely useful in moving forward with their plans to improve Kentucky’s health,” Zepeda said.

Among the findings in the Northern Kentucky KHIP report:

  • 85 percent of Kentuckians (and 85 percent of Northern Kentuckians) favor tobacco-free campus policies for schools, while just 29 percent of Kentucky’s school districts have adopted such policies;
  • 66 percent of Kentuckians (68 percent of Northern Kentuckians) favor a statewide law prohibiting smoking in most public places;
  • Opinion regarding increasing the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1 is split (47 percent of Northern Kentuckians favor the tax and 49 percent oppose it, compared to 45 percent of Kentuckians overall in favor and 51 percent opposed);
  • A slim majority support increasing to 21 the minimum age to buy tobacco products (54 percent of Northern Kentuckians, 60 percent of Kentuckians overall, in favor);
  • 83 percent of Kentuckians (80 percent Northern Kentuckians) say reducing the cost of health care is a key issue for elected officials;
  • Similarly, 81 percent (77 percent Northern Kentuckians) consider improving the health of Kentuckians a key issue;
  • 17 percent of Northern Kentucky adults were uninsured compared to 13 percent of Kentuckians overall , and 37 percent of Northern Kentucky households had trouble paying medical bills, compared to 28 percent of Kentucky households overall;
  • 22 percent of Northern Kentucky adults reported a person in their household delayed or did not get needed medical care because of the cost (20 percent for Kentuckians overall);
  • Northern Kentuckians had slightly less favorable opinions about the Affordable Care Act (33 percent) compared to the state (41 percent) and a majority (60 percent) said the law had no impact on them (50 percent of Kentuckians overall);
  • Heroin use has caused problems for 35 percent of Northern Kentuckians’ family members and friends, compared to 13 percent statewide; and
  • 54 percent of Northern Kentuckians report very good or excellent health, compared to 43 percent of their counterparts statewide.

The poll was conducted Sept. 17, 2015, through Oct. 7, 2015, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,608 adults from throughout Kentucky was interviewed by telephone, including landlines and cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of ±2.4 percent (Northern Kentucky ±5.2 percent). The associated complete KHIP data file, codebook and survey instrument will be posted by June 30 at alongside KHIP data files from previous years.

About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky

Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested nearly $25.5 million in health policy research, advocacy and pilot project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the Foundation is to address the unmet health care needs of Kentuckians by informing and influencing health policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter and on Facebook, or visit our website at

Media Contacts:

Bonnie J. Hackbarth

Angela Koch