(LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 18, 2019) U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell today announced plans to introduce a "tobacco 21" bill in the U.S. Senate to raise the minimum legal age for tobacco sales nationwide from 18 to 21. Following is a statement from Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, who joined Sen. McConnell at the Foundation's offices in Louisville for the announcement:
"There's no time to waste in addressing the surge in youth vaping that's inundating schools throughout Kentucky and the nation with a nicotine-packed product that threatens to damage our children's brains and addict them to tobacco for the rest of their lives. Raising the legal age for sales of all tobacco products from 18 to 21 is key to stemming the youth vaping epidemic. We've already lost years of progress in reducing youth tobacco use, so we urge Congress to pass the tobacco 21 bill quickly.
"Tobacco 21 laws reduce tobacco use among both youth and adults because most tobacco use starts before age 18. Every time we prevent an adolescent or teen from trying tobacco, we increase the probability that he or she will avoid tobacco throughout adulthood.
"Raising the legal sales age for tobacco from 18 to 21 is effective because most kids get tobacco products from older friends rather than buying the products themselves. But 16- and 17-year-olds don't typically hang around with those who are 21 and older, so tobacco-21 laws make it harder for them to access tobacco.
"The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky thanks Sen. McConnell for his leadership on this issue and stands ready to help in every way we can to ensure its passage. This is for the health of our kids."
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About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested nearly $28 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth