Dr. Zim Okoli Speaks at Tobacco Tax Media Event, Calls for Higher Cigarette Tax with Members of BREATHE

Posted: February 20, 2018

Supporters of a higher cigarette tax in Kentucky, including members of the College of Nursing BREATHE (Bridging Research Efforts and Advocacy Toward Health Environments) Team, rallied at the State Capitol in Frankfort on Thursday, February 8.

According to the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow, Kentuckians living with mental illness have high smoking rates, and often require stronger doses of psychiatric medications and live shorter lives as a result. But quitting smoking can improve their lives, and an increase in the state excise tax on tobacco products would be particularly effective in reducing smoking among this group. Coalition partners at the news conference also said more than 40 percent of those who smoke in the United States also have alcohol, drug or mental disorders

“If there’s a ten-percent increase in the cost of cigarettes, there’s an 18-percent decrease in tobacco consumption among price-sensitive people with mental illnesses,” says Zim Okoli, PhD, MPH, MSN, RN, assistant professor.

“Stopping smoking not only reduces the risk for heart disease, lung disease and cancer, it also improves symptoms of mental illnesses, helping them live a better quality of life,” he continues.