Recent updates! – Tobacco 21 Progress
2/8/2016 – HB 125 posted in House Committee on Small Business & Information Technology
1/6/2016 – HB 125 referred to House Committee on Small Business & Information Technology
1/3/2017 – Representative Tim Couch, introduces House Bill 125 to the House; the bill would raise the age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21 in Kentucky.
1/26/2016 – Representatives Watkins, Jenkins, and Burch introduced House Bill 299, the bill would raise the age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21 in Kentucky.

Kentucky is another state that has Tobacco 21 legislation being considered at the state level. House Bill 125 awaits a decision in the House Committee on Small Business & Information Technology. While they decide, more and more children are put at risk. Kentucky has an above average rate of high school smoking in the country, which is no doubt influenced by also having one of the highest rates of adult smoking in the country (25.9%).

An estimated 119,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die early due to smoking, with 3,200 children becoming daily smokers each year. This results in an annual health care cost of $1.92 billion that is directly attributable to smoking, and another $2.79 billion in lost productivity. Unfortunately, the state spends a mere 8% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, and only has a $.60 tax per pack; this likely contributes to the state’s high smoking rates.

Kentucky state code contains preemption language preventing local governments from enacting stricter youth access regulations. Even though state law does not allow for local Tobacco 21 laws, this does not mean local government cannot play an important role. A good example is Washington State, which is also preempted locally concerning Minimum Legal Sales Age (MLSA) increases. In Washington, city councils and local boards of health passed resolutions in support of the statewide law under consideration by the legislature. Resolutions cost nothing, but clearly help fuel momentum toward better protection for your kids. Please consider calling your local board of health, city council member or county commissioner. Your voice is very important to legislators considering Tobacco 21 laws, all it takes is one or two phone calls or emails to support the movement to raise the age.

For more information, you may contact:

Rob Crane, MD
Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation

Amy Barkley
Director, Tobacco States and Mid-Atlantic
Tobacco Free Kids

or visit our sources:

Tobacco Free Kids Kentucky: “The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.”

American Lung Association State Report Card: “The ALA ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and federal levels, and assigns grades based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of January 2, 2014.”

SLATI State Information Kentucky: “SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues) is an extensively researched and invaluable source of information on tobacco control laws and policy, and is the only up-to-date and comprehensive summary of state tobacco control laws.”

The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids support these four principles for Tobacco 21 ordinances:

1) Include all tobacco and nicotine products, specifically e-cigarettes. The only exceptions would be FDA recognized nicotine replacement products (gum, patch, etc.) intended for cessation.
2) Include significant enforcement provisions against illegal sales as research shows that consistent enforcement is of critical importance.
3) Not include any pre-emption against local authority in more stringent regulation of tobacco or other nicotine product sales, secondhand smoke, or e-cigarette vapor.
4) Ideally not include possession, usage, or purchase (PUP) penalties that result in criminal records, and instead place the onus on the purveyors of these addictive products.

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