Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Kentucky. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Kentucky's elected officials:
1. Repeal state preemption of local tobacco control authority;
2. Restore funding for the Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program to $3.3 million and ensure that funding is spent according to CDC's Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs; and
3. Support and defend local comprehensive smokefree laws, including e-cigarettes.

During the 2020 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, Tobacco 21 legislation passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Andy Beshear. Effective August 1, 2020, the new statute covers e-cigarettes and removes some prior penalties on youth for underage purchase, use and possession of tobacco products.

Also, during 2020, amid predictions of dramatic declines in revenue associated with COVID-19 and the urgent need to fund the state's response to the pandemic, the legislature passed one year of what is normally a biennial budget. This unusual circumstance caused many programs to be slashed. Among those cut was the state's tobacco control program, reduced from $3.3 million to $2 million. Buttressed with some carry over funds, program services will fortunately not be curtailed in 2020, but the need to restore funding in the second year of the biennium is acute.

The state Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program distributes funds to local and district health departments across the state to support educators' and tobacco coordinators' efforts to provide education in schools, conduct cessation programs, and finance media outreach.

On a significantly more positive note, the budget also included the state's first-ever excise tax on e-cigarettes effective August 1, 2020. The tax is bifurcated with a $1.50 rate per pod and a 15% of wholesale rate on e-liquid systems.

Finally, with an increasing number of local smokefree laws, approximately 36% of Kentucky residents are now covered by comprehensive smokefree protections. The state has made progress both on passing new comprehensive ordinances, including Hodgenville and Knott County in 2020 and on amending existing local laws to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in smokefree workplaces and public places.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll, taken October through December 2020, found that about 75% of adults surveyed favored a state law prohibiting smoking in public places, but continued progress at the local level will be critical to passing a statewide law in the future.

The American Lung Association in Kentucky will continue working with our many health coalition partners and others to grow and activate our grassroots network statewide, and to advance tobacco control and prevention initiatives at the state and local levels. As the legislature begins its work in 2021, the Lung Association will continue our efforts to educate policymakers, business leaders and media on the importance of the American Lung Association's goals to reduce all tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, and to protect public health.
  • Kentucky Facts
  • Economic Cost Due to Smoking: $1,926,976,238

  • Adult Smoking Rate: 23.6%

  • High School Smoking Rate: 8.9%

  • High School Tobacco Use Rate: 29.7%

  • Middle School Smoking Rate: N/A

  • Smoking Attributable Deaths per Year: 8,860

Adult smoking data come from CDC's 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school smoking and tobacco use data come from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. A current middle school smoking rate is not available for this state.

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