Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Kansas. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Kansas calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Advocate for increased funding for tobacco control at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended levels;
- Pass local laws raising the tobacco sales age to 21; and
- Increase taxes on tobacco products.
During the 2017 legislative session, two tobacco tax bills were filed. Both Senate Bill 175 and House Bill 2315 would have increased the tobacco tax by $1.00 per pack; however, neither bill was passed in 2017. The American Lung Association in Kansas will continue to advocate for an increase in the 2018 legislative session.
The Lung Association teamed up with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and other partners to promote Tobacco 21 in the Kansas City metro area in 2017. Tobacco 21 raises the legal age of sale for tobacco from 18 to 21. Communities that have done this are expected to see significant reductions in youth smoking as a result. Evidence is very clear that young people who reach the age of 21 without smoking are very likely to never start. Unfortunately, kids who can purchase tobacco products at 18 are often the source for younger teen's tobacco products. Raising the age to 21 makes it more difficult for those under 18 to get their hands on tobacco products and increases the likelihood they will never start.
Sixteen communities in metropolitan Kansas City have adopted Tobacco 21 ordinances. This includes 17 communities on the Kansas side of the state line: Bonner Springs, Garden City, Johnson County, Kansas City/Wyandotte County, Olathe, Leavenworth, Prairie Village; Lansing; Lenexa; Leawood, Iola, Merriam, Mission Hills, Overland Park, Roeland Park, Shawnee County, and Westwood. This represents more than 767,000 Kansans now living in Tobacco 21 communities with more on the way. The Lung Association has been asked to make presentations on Tobacco 21 to multiple other communities in Kansas and Missouri since adoption of these initial ordinances.
During the 2018 legislative session, the American Lung Association in Kansas will continue to focus on lung health and work with partners to advocate for increased tobacco taxes and funding for tobacco control programs. The Lung Association will also continue to advocate for passage of Tobacco 21 laws at the local level.