By Serenity Moore

Serenity Moore is a youth advocate from Boys and Girls Club, Glasgow/Barren County. She is a junior at Glasgow Independent High School and a member of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s Tobacco-Free Policy Youth Ambassadors.

Being a teen today is a lot different than it was when many of you were my age. The majority of teens today are filled with worry and not just about their grades or graduation. I have friends who worry about whether or not there will be enough food to eat, whether their lights will be cut off when they get home. . . I have friends who help their mom pay the rent or do without so a younger sister or brother can have something they need. It is stressful on all of us, and some of us even more.

Some teens feel hopeless and others helpless. A lot of people I know try e-cigarettes because they think it makes them look cool. It doesn’t. And it ends up adding to their worry and stress rather than thinking that being cool is the solution.

I like that House Bill 32 would make e-cigarettes and vapes more expensive to buy by putting a tax on them that’s nearly equivalent to the current cigarette tax.  I do wish it would go further by making the tax equal to the cigarette tax. This tax will help prevent a lot of teens from being able to purchase them because most kids don’t have a lot of money in the first place. And I do think it would be helpful if healthy foods and drinks were made MORE affordable, and these unhealthy things were more expensive.

House Bill 32 would create an opportunity for the commonwealth to have new money to begin to address the bigger problems that lead teens to use these products in the first place. No amount of money would be an instant fix, just as no single bill will stop the use of e-cigarettes and vapes among teens, but we have to start somewhere. Investing a portion of this money into programs for teens’ health and well-being would be a first step in showing them they are worth the investment.

Thank you to the other youth advocates and state legislators working to find ways to prevent teens from using harmful products. Conversations around challenges and solutions are what will lead to real, positive change. And including young people in the conversations will ensure that the solutions in Frankfort will actually solve problems back at home. It will also ensure that you are cultivating new leaders who will one day be filling the seats in our Capitol.

TAKE ACTION by asking your state Representative to support House Bill 32. Learn more about this Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priority and stay up-to-date on House Bill 32 and other bills that are good for kids on our Bill Tracker