FRANKFORT, Ky. — Michiel Vaughn owes a lot to tobacco. The lucrative crop helped pay for his livelihood in the 1980s when he farmed it in western Kentucky.
But a 100-year-old tobacco barn on his property now holds sheep, a colony of pet rabbits and a hand-painted mural urging people to quit smoking and giving them a phone number to help them do it.
The mural is one of two on iconic tobacco barns that the state of Kentucky has paid for using federal grant money to help drive home the anti-smoking message. It is part of a campaign targeting the state with one of the highest smoking rates in the country where more than 8,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses every year. It echoes the advertising campaigns of some tobacco companies, which for decades would pay farmers to paint ads on their barns.
It’s a milestone for Kentucky, whose economy once depended …