March 19, 2020 The Kentucky General Assembly has passed Senate Bill 56, which would conform Kentucky statute to federal law and raise the legal age to purchase all tobacco products to 21. SB56 also removes status offenses and other penalties on youth who purchase, use or possess tobacco products.
Kentucky ranks second in heart disease and ninth in deaths due to heart disease, while simultaneously having the highest percentage of adult smokers, and lowest percentage of adults attempting to quit. This is especially concerning as Kentucky faces nearly epidemic levels of youth vaping, addicting a new generation to nicotine products as Kentucky attempts to grapple with these very real public health issues.
While there is debate on the efficacy of vaping products to adult tobacco cessation there is a clear evidence as found in the 2018 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report that e-cigarette use amongst youth is strongly associated with increased risk of ever having used traditional combustible tobacco products. Almost 90 percent of adult smokers started smoking by the age of 18, when the developing adolescent brain is most susceptible to nicotine addiction. Raising the age to purchase tobacco products will have a measurable and immediate impact on rates of nicotine addiction amongst Americans.
The Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Cardiology commends the legislature for taking this step forward and thanks Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester) for his tireless work on behalf of the medical community.