(LOUISVILLE, Ky – June 8, 2016) — Policy efforts that lead to decreased smoking rates engender strong support among Kentucky adults, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) series of regional reports, which found that a majority Kentucky adults in every region of the Commonwealth support smoke-free campuses, a statewide smoke-free law and raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. Such policies could greatly improve Kentucky’s overall health, as could policies that help Kentuckians access needed health care earlier, get more exercise, eat better, and quit smoking – behavior changes Kentucky adults identify as important but find difficult to make in the current environment.
The KHIP regional reports found variations in the percentage of Kentucky adults who said they had no insurance, from a high of 18 percent in Western Kentucky to a low of 8 percent in Eastern Kentucky. The statewide uninsured rate reported at the time of the poll was 13 percent. Even with lower rates of uninsurance than the statewide average, 34 percent of Northern Kentuckians still reported that they had difficulties paying their medical bills in the past year, compared to 31 percent in Eastern Kentucky, 30 percent in Greater Louisville, 25 percent in Greater Louisville, and 22 percent in Greater Lexington.
“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. All findings, divided into five regional reports (Eastern Kentucky, Greater Lexington, Greater Louisville, Northern Kentucky, and Western Kentucky), and associated regional news releases will available online at http://healthy-ky.org/newsroom/news-releases at 12:01 a.m. June 8, 2016.
“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 regional KHIP reports:
- Widespread support was apparent in all regions for tobacco-free campus policies for schools (85 percent of Kentuckians statewide favor such policies, and regional support ranged from 83 percent in Eastern Kentucky to 91 percent in the Greater Lexington area);
- Similarly, while 66 percent of Kentuckians overall favored a statewide law prohibiting smoking in most public places, support ranged from 64 percent in Eastern Kentucky to 71 percent in Greater Lexington;
- Some differences were found among regions reporting a favorable opinion regarding the Affordable Care Act (41 percent statewide, compared to a low of 33 percent in Northern Kentucky to a high of 44 percent in Greater Louisville);
- While 50 percent of the respondents statewide said the Affordable Care Act had no impact on them, 60 percent of Northern Kentuckians felt that way while just 45 percent of Greater Louisville respondents said it had no impact;
- Respondents reported similar ideas for the one thing they could do to improve their health, with nearly one in three citing exercise, and two in 10 citing improved diet. Others identified improving access to healthcare and quitting smoking. The majority in every region (59 percent to 70 percent) indicated it would be “difficult” or “very difficult” to make the personal health change they indicated was most important, however. Policies can create changes in Kentuckians’ surrounding to encourage and facilitate healthier choices.
- Heroin use has caused problems for 13 percent of the statewide respondents’ family members or friends, compared to 35 percent in Northern Kentucky, 17 percent in Greater Louisville, 14 percent in Greater Lexington, 10 percent in Eastern Kentucky, and 8 percent in Western Kentucky; and
While 25 percent of statewide respondents reported family members or friends struggling with prescription drug abuse, those numbers ranged from 16 percent in Western Kentucky to 33 percent in Eastern Kentucky.
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. The associated complete KHIP data file, codebook and survey instrument will be posted by June 30 at http://www.oasisdataarchive.org/) alongside other KHIP data files from previous years.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested over $26 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 www.healthy-ky.org.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth