(LOUISVILLE, Ky - January 28, 2020) Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky legislature have publicly recognized that current revenues will continue to be outpaced by growing costs in the state's systems for pensions, corrections and Medicaid, as well as Kentucky's ongoing response to the addiction crisis. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky also is calling for more investment in tobacco-use prevention and cessation to help improve the health of Kentuckians and reduce health-care costs. Foundation CEO Ben Chandler says tobacco tax increases are one economically sound answer.

"In addition to raising revenue on one side of the budget, they reduce health care and business costs and increase employee productivity on the other," Chandler said. "We know they're effective: the recent cigarette tax hike raised $140 million in new revenue its first year; at the same time, Kentuckians bought 36 million fewer packs of cigarettes.

"Kentucky has an escalating youth vaping epidemic - teens are using these products at nearly three times the rate of adults. E-cigs are highly addictive for youth, they're a gateway to smoking, and they rewire young brains to make them more susceptible to other addictions. While retailers of Juul and other e-cigs don't pay a single penny of excise tax in Kentucky, their products are solely responsible for reversing a decade's worth of progress in youth tobacco use.

"The burgeoning vaping industry insists that e-cigs either shouldn't be taxed at all, or it offers up a fully debunked study to support taxing them at rates much lower than other tobacco products. But here's the truth: E-cigarettes provide absolutely no-harm reduction or cessation value for the teens who use them at the greatest rates.

"We have a long history of allowing tobacco to bill Kentucky far more than it earns: tobacco use costs Kentucky more than $1.92 billion in health care costs, yet brings in only $188.4 million in excise tax revenues. We need both increased revenues AND reduced health care costs, so we strongly encourage the General Assembly to tax e-cigs at the current cigarette tax rate. That will bring in $34 million next year. If legislators also want to go along with the industry's push to maintain a tax gap between e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, they could also raise the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Kentuckians can certainly live - better, longer, and more productively - with that."

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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 more than $29 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.


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