(FRANKFORT, Ky - March 19, 2020) Kentucky's House of Representatives today adopted "tobacco 21" legislation; the bill already passed the Senate and will soon be headed to Gov. Beshear's desk. Senate Bill 56 would conform Kentucky statutes to the new federal law raising the legal age to purchase all tobacco products to 21; the bill also would remove status offense and other penalties on youth who purchase, use or possess tobacco products. Following is a statement from the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow:
"Today, the Kentucky General Assembly took a crucial step to publicly recognize that tobacco products are extremely harmful, especially for our youth whose developing brains are particularly susceptible to nicotine," said Ben Chandler, chair of the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow, which comprises more than 225 Kentucky organizations working to reduce tobacco use in the Commonwealth. "While smoking among our youth has been declining for decades, e-cigarette use has exploded the past three years. In 2019, more than 53,000 high school students and 27,000 middle schoolers in Kentucky were using e-cigarette, or 'vaping.' Removing the penalties is about improving health as well because inserting kids into our judicial system for these types of offenses leads to worse health outcomes. Congratulations to the Kentucky legislature, and to Sen. Ralph Alvarado, for their work to protect our youth from tobacco."
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About the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow
The Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow is committed to its mission of improving Kentucky's health by protecting Kentuckians from secondhand smoke and other tobacco emissions, and by reducing the high rate of smoking and tobacco use in the Commonwealth. For more information, please visit www.smokefreetomorrow.org.
The Coalition is led by representatives of the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Baptist Health, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Humana, Kentucky Cancer Foundation, Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Council of Churches, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, Kentucky Health Collaborative, Kentucky Health Departments Association, Kentucky Hospital Association, Kentucky Medical Association, Kentucky Nurses Association, Kentucky School Boards Association, Kentucky Voices for Health, and Kentucky Youth Advocates. Other partners and members of the Coalition represent a broad array of more than 210 groups, including Kentucky business leaders, health advocates, health care providers and payers, educators, and faith community leaders.