Senate Bill 56 aims to protect Kentucky youth from e-cigarettes and other harmful tobacco products and would ensure Kentucky complies with the federal minimum legal sale age for all tobacco products and eliminate purchase, use, and possession penalties for youth up to age 21 so children and teens can grow into healthier adults. This week bill passed The House Judiciary Committee and is now awaiting a vote by the full Kentucky House.
By Abbi Stratton
Abbi Stratton, a student at Graves County High School and a member of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s Tobacco-Free Policy Youth Ambassadors, prepared this as her testimony for the House Judiciary Committee hearing on March 4, 2020:
E-cigarettes have become popular for their accessibility and addictiveness. The fact that they fit in the palm of your hand, are odorless, and have a similar makeup to that of a flash drive make them even more appealing. In many situations, students can smoke e-cigarettes in public without being caught. Now the device that was once only an issue for high school students has made its way to even younger students.
One might ask, “How are 12-year olds getting vapes?” There are multiple reasons. The one I’ve seen the most is older students buying them and then reselling them to interested buyers. It’s all too often that I hear my classmates saying how their older brother or sister can buy them a vape if they want one. My sister who is in middle school says many students get them from older siblings as well.
The pure evil behind this obsession is that the teen gets addicted, and then they need to feed their addiction. Someone can go through a pack of pods in a day, a week, or a month. The faster they go through them the more money teens have to spend to supply this addiction.
The younger generation buys one to fit in or because everyone is doing it, and they do not understand the repercussions that will follow. These middle schoolers and even elementary school kids buy an e-cigarette expecting it to be a one-time thing. They scrape enough money to buy one, get addicted and have no idea what to do next. If the price of these devices can be driven so high that it will appear unappealing to these younger ages, then maybe their futures can be brighter.
Thank you to 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 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 Senate Bill 56 to ensure Kentucky complies with the federal minimum legal sale age for all tobacco products and eliminate purchase, use, and possession penalties for youth up to age 21 so children and teens can grow into healthier adults. Learn more about SB 56 on the Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.
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