Topeka — Kansas is one of 15 states that will receive a federal grant aimed at preventing young people from purchasing cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The $558,000 from the Food and Drug Administration will go toward hiring more inspectors to enforce laws preventing the sale of tobacco to anyone younger than 18.
“We know that most smokers start young, get addicted, and end up with diseases ranging from emphysema to lung cancer,” said Dr. Lawrence Deyton, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.
Deyton said 400,000 people die nationwide from tobacco-related diseases. The number of smoking-related deaths in Kansas is about 4,000 per year.
“Eliminating easy access to tobacco products and restricting exposure to secondhand smoke in public places are two of the best strategies to help our Kansas kids grow up tobacco free,” said Mary Jane Hellebust, executive director of the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition.
Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Joan Wagnon said the grant will replace three tobacco enforcement inspectors whose positions were cut during budget cuts, and add three more inspectors.