Health advocates call for action to stem youth e-cig use

Published 12:14 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Public health advocates rallied at Kentucky’s Capitol on Tuesday to push for legislation aimed at reducing smoking and e-cigarette use among young people.

A group called the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow urged Kentucky lawmakers to impose an excise tax on the sale of e-cigarettes. The bill would tax e-cigarettes at 27.5% of their wholesale price, which is equivalent to the state’s $1.10-per-pack tax on cigarettes. The measure would generate an estimated $34 million in its first year.

Another measure backed by the group would raise the minimum legal age in Kentucky to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. It’s similar to a new federal law championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The coalition also called for increased state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.

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The statehouse rally featured students, health advocates and business leaders.

“Kentuckians broadly support the measures that research tells us will curb the youth e-cigarette epidemic, which continues to expand at alarming rates in the commonwealth,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

State health officials last week announced Kentucky’s first probable vaping-related death. The person who died was a male in his late 20s, officials said.