Eastern Kentucky leads the nation in lung cancer deaths, but one groups of cancer and health officials plans to get those numbers turned around, and a $3,000 grant will help get the project off the ground.
Officials say Kentucky rates number one in many smoking and lung cancer statistics.
"We're number one for the number of youth who smoke, we're number one for the number of pregnant women who smoke," says Debra Armstrong with the Kentucky Cancer Program.
Jaclyn Nee with the Kentucky Cancer Registry says, "The incidence of mortality is significantly higher and deaths from this are significantly higher and we'd like to reduce that so the health of this community is improved."
The Kentucky Cancer Program, along with local health officials will use the grant to get the word to eastern Kentuckians of all ages that smoking not only causes lung cancer, but raises their risk for heart disease and other cancers. Becky Simpson, a cancer control specialist, says education is one of the biggest obstacles.
"We have awareness issues that they're not even aware that they need to be screened or that there is help available out there," says Simpson.
Simpson hopes the education about smoking risk factors will help get eastern Kentuckians to think about their health.
"We're going to do it for about six months of so and try and see what kind of impact we've had on the community in lowering the cancer rates," says Simpson.
Simpson says the group is working to adapt their message to every age group, from school children to the elderly. Simpson says they are planning another meeting to get local schools, businesses, and organizations involved to help spread the message.