Poll data released today by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health indicate the majority of Kentucky adults, 60%, favor raising the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. While the Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) found majority support for increasing the age to buy tobacco, Kentucky adults seem evenly divided on whether to increase the state's excise tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack.   

"Raising the minimum legal age to buy tobacco serves as a deterrent to keep teenagers from starting tobacco use," stated Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  "While KHIP shows mixed opinions about increasing cigarette taxes, the data clearly indicates the majority of Kentucky adults recognize the need to try and keep young people from starting tobacco use by raising the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products."  

KHIP highlights include:

  • More than 6 in 10 (61%) of those who identified themselves as being Republican or Democrat favor raising the age to buy tobacco products; 55% of Independents favor the change in age.
  • More than 6 in 10 adults (64%) of those who have never smoked favor raising the age; 57% of current and former smokers were favorable.
  • Half (51%) oppose a cigarette excise tax increase of $1 per pack; 45% favor an increase on the cigarette tax by $1 per pack.
  • More than 8 in 10 (85%) current smokers oppose an excise tax increase on cigarettes;
  • 6 in 10 (59%) of those who have never smoked favor a cigarette tax increase; 51% of former smokers favor an excise tax increase of $1 per pack.
  • Slightly more Republicans (47%) than Democrats (45%) and Independents (42%) favor a cigarette excise tax increase of $1 per pack.

Only one state, Hawaii, has increased the minimum legal age for buying tobacco products to 21. More than 1 in 4 (26%) Kentucky adults reported being a smoker. National statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal 18.1% of adults are smokers.  

KHIP was funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health. The poll was conducted September 17, 2015-October 7, 2015, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati.  A random sample of 1,608 adults from throughout Kentucky was interviewed by telephone, including landlines and cell phones.  The poll has a margin of error of ±2.4%.