Statement of Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, regarding the 2017 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (the Rankings) report to be released on Wednesday, March 29, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute:

“The Rankings show that people living in Eastern and rural Kentucky counties tend to have much poorer health than those in urban Kentucky counties. The Rankings also make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care, including whether we can find and afford healthy foods, whether we can exercise safely in our neighborhoods, whether we have health insurance and if that insurance covers preventive care, and how safe our water is to drink and our air is to breathe … for example, whether we are protected from secondhand smoke.

“Every community can take steps to improve the health of its residents. The most significant thing every community, employer and school system in Kentucky can do, if it hasn’t already, is to pass a smoke-free policy. Smoking affects nearly every organ of the body, and is responsible for more than one in five deaths in Kentucky. Every year, smoking kills 8,000 Kentuckians, and adds a financial burden of more than $22,000 per smoker in extra health care expenses, lost earnings and other costs. Reducing smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke is the single most effective thing Kentucky communities can do to improve health.”

About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested nearly $26.7 million in health policy research and advocacy, as well as demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation is to address the unmet health care needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing health policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at
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Media Contacts:
Bonnie J. Hackbarth
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502-552-3770 (mobile)   
Angela Koch
502-326-2583 (office)