Letters to the Editor

Letters on graduation rates, tobacco tax, public health, Thompson

Graduation rates impact health

The Eagle covered the recent release of the County Health Rankings, an annual report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (March 30 Eagle). Sedgwick County ranked 60th in Kansas when it comes to overall health.

The article mentioned factors that hurt the county’s ranking, including violent crimes and adult smoking, but there’s another issue that impacts the health of county residents: graduation rates.

Only 82 percent of students in Sedgwick County graduated high school on time, according to the report. This is a problem, because education is linked to future employment, which impacts how well and how long people live.

Kansas Reading Roadmap is a collaborative program committed to improving Kansas’ high school graduation rate by addressing the problem early – before a child reaches the fourth grade. By summer 2017, KRR will be working with more than 12,000 students in 61 schools in Kansas, including four schools in Wichita, through after-school, family engagement and summer programs focused on literacy.

Spreading this model will improve graduation rates and the health of Kansas students.

Andrew Hysell, Topeka

Executive Director

Kansas Reading Roadmap

A win-win tax

Many public health issues can be addressed in our state, but none is more timely than the proposed tobacco tax. With lower than average tobacco taxes and higher than average smoking rates, all Kansans are subsidizing the high cost of tobacco addiction.

Not only would a significant tobacco tax increase the revenue needed to pay for essential state services, but it would reduce health care costs as more Kansans quit.

Government expenditures related to tobacco use cost Kansans $1.12 billion each year. This is $779 for every Kansas household annually. Smoking costs Kansas $14.12 per pack in health costs and lost productivity.

Raising the tobacco tax would result in savings for Kansas taxpayers. A $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase would result in $80.9 million in additional revenue per year. A comparable tax on other tobacco products would result in $30.3 million in additional revenue per year. That is a total new revenue of $111 million per year in our state.

The financial benefit combined with fewer smoking-caused heart attacks and strokes, pregnancy and birth complications, and lung cancer cases seems like a win-win for Kansas.

Becky P. Tuttle, Wichita

Project Manager, Health ICT

Need activity

This is National Public Health Week. I am thankful for the public health professionals working tirelessly in our community to reduce the rates of infant mortality, promote healthy eating, and much more.

Public health efforts come from many sectors in our community. As a mom of a 5th grade boy with a little over a month of elementary school remaining, the allure of summer fun makes it hard for him to focus at school. Students can be rewarded with “wellness rewards,” such as using an exercise ball instead of a chair, adding bouncy bands to desks, allowing standing stations and brain breaks. The longer children are forced to sit and grow roots in their chairs, the harder it will be for them to bloom.

There is a myriad of research that proves that students need adequate amounts of physical activity throughout the school day. This not only helps prevent obesity-related issues, it helps them perform better academically. I am especially thankful this week to his teacher, Mrs. Hunter, for adding more physical activity into the school day.

Shelley Rich, Wichita

Vote Thompson

As a teen, James Thompson had to support his family by dropping out of school and working at a go-cart track. After a teacher took interest in him, he finished school, served in the Army and became a civil rights lawyer.

When Thompson says he cares about education, veterans’ issues and the working class, I believe him.

Please vote Thompson in the 4th District congressional race on April 11.

Avery Udagawa, Wichita

Letters to the Editor

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Phillip Brownlee at 316-268-6262, pbrownlee@wichitaeagle.com.

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