“In the last year and a half, I went to 3 proms, 2 homecomings, graduated high school, got a job, AND I saw the rise of e-cigarette usage in high schools and middle schools across Kentucky and the nation. For a device that’s small enough to fit between my thumb and pointer finger, it’s causing an epidemic of nicotine addicted teens.”
– Jenna, a recent Kentucky high school graduate
There’s an undeniable popularity in e-cigarette use among Kentucky kids — some first trying vaping as young as 11 years old. And these harmful products are packed with nicotine, some with enough to equate up to two packs of cigarettes in one device. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to its effect as it can cause lasting damage to brain development and significantly increasing their risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, oral disease, and tooth loss, and all the other smoking-related health issues later in life. E-cigarette vapor also has chemicals and metals that can damage lungs — for both the youth who is vaping and those who inhale the secondhand vapor.
A proven way to keep these harmful products out of the hands of our youngest Kentuckians, as well as pregnant women who are also vulnerable to the harmful effect, is to tax these nicotine-packed products. Currently, e-cigarettes are the only tobacco product not subject to a state excise tax.
“As a recent 18-year-old, my friends and I, who are old enough to purchase these products, have been asked by younger peers to purchase cheaper e-cigarettes that are on the market, which is proof that price dictates what teens buy or ask to buy.”
– Yulie, a recent Kentucky high school graduate
With more than one in four Kentucky 12th graders and one in seven 8th graders using e-cigarettes along with the known impact on healthy development, Representatives Jerry Miller and Kim Moser are taking necessary first steps to ensure an increased tax on e-cigarettes is a reality in the 2020 legislative session by pre-filing a bill. Additionally, Senator Julie Raque Adams has committed to file a companion bill in the Kentucky Senate. This legislation presents the commonwealth with a real chance to reduce the rampant use of e-cigarettes among our kids.