(LOUISVILLE, Ky - December 17, 2019) The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky hailed inclusion of language in the year- end funding bill being considered by the U.S. Congress to raise to 21 the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, across the country. The language was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who announced from the Foundation's offices on April 18, 2019, that it was among his top priorities for the 116th Congress.
Kentucky, which currently sets 18 as the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco, will need to change its state law to comply with the the new federal law when it passes. Sen. Ralph Alvarado prefiled a tobacco 21 bill (BR 967) on Dec. 12 that would accomplish this. His bill will be considered in the 2020 General Assembly, which convenes Jan. 7.
Following is a statement from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky:
"Sen. McConnell kept his word to prioritize youth health by fostering support for tobacco 21 in Congress," said Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky President and CEO Ben Chandler, who worked closely with McConnell in developing the legislation. "This bill is a critical step toward reversing the skyrocketing rates of youth vaping nationwide and in Kentucky. We encourage the Kentucky legislature to demonstrate similar leadership in passing Sen. Alvarado's tobacco 21 bill quickly this coming year."
NOTE: An earlier version on this news release announced several additional measures included in an earlier version of the Tobacco 21 language that had been negotiated among members of the House and Senate. The final language did not include the additional measures.
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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