1. Pass legislation to ensure comprehensive cessation coverage for all private insurance and Medicaid programs in the state without barriers;
2. Pass legislation to ensure all Kentucky school campuses are smokefree; and
3. Pass local and state legislation to prohibit smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces.
Unfortunately, no new state laws passed in Kentucky related to tobacco control during the 2016 legislative session. Two factors contributed to this: it being a budget year and a new governor being elected that was not supportive.
Legislation to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 was filed in the House and made it through the Health and Welfare Committee but was assigned to an unfriendly committee for second reading and promptly died. It is likely that this legislation will be filed again in 2017.
Our smokefree law champions in the House and Senate decided not to file the clean indoor air bill in 2016 because the environment, especially on the Senate side, was unfriendly to allowing it to even be heard in committee. Even on the House side where the clean indoor air law passed the House in 2015, getting the votes needed to pass it would have been difficult.
One bill that seemed to gain traction but did not pass in 2016 was a bill sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams and co-sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado which would ensure that all seven FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications and recommended counseling sessions as recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service Guideline: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence would be covered by all private insurance and Medicaid programs in the state without any barriers. The bill was allowed an informational hearing and will be refiled in 2017.
There continued to be work at the local level to pass smokefree air ordinances and work through school districts to pass tobacco-free campus policies. The city of Hazard implemented a weak partial law that only prohibited smoking in some public places and workplaces, Pikeville added e-cigarettes to their partial ordinance, and Leitchfield also enacted a partial law. Ten school districts also passed tobacco-free campus policies.
Finally, the Lung Association worked with a number of other organizations and testified to express concern over Governor Bevin's overhaul of Kentucky's Medicaid expansion that included many barriers to access to care as well as limited smoking cessation coverage. Major improvements were made to the cessation coverage, however there are still many issues related to access to care.