In the final week of the U.S. Congressional session, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced inclusion of the bipartisan legislation, Tobacco-Free Youth Act, in the year-end funding bill. The Tobacco-Free Youth Act raises the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products across the country, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is providing more details to ensure retailers comply.

Passage of this federal spending bill will have a profound impact on kids’ health, and Kentucky will have the opportunity to make changes to its’ own legislation in order to comply with the federal law. Prior to this federal legislation, Kentucky had a minimum age of 18 to legally purchase tobacco or e-cigarette products.

Kentucky legislators have already shown interest in raising the legal sale age of tobacco products in a pre-filed bill (BR 967), sponsored by state Senator Ralph Alvarado. This bill request outlines a standard equivalent to that of the federal bill, raising the legal sale age of tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 to 21. The Kentucky General Assembly convenes on January 7, 2020 and will consider the bill request.

Find more information about the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children solutions to end the epidemic of e-cigarette use among Kentucky children and teens here.

The federal and state legislation is an important step for public health, particularly for children in Kentucky to help reverse the high rates of e-cigarette use among youth. Kentucky Youth Advocates thanks Leader McConnell and Senator Tim Kaine for leading the way in Congress on this critical issue. We commend Senator Alvarado for prefiling a Tobacco 21 bill to be considered in the 2020 General Assembly.

Register to join the Foundation for a Health Kentucky and our partners in the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow on January 14th in Frankfort to rally in support of bills to protect Kentucky youth from the harms of tobacco products. Register to join Kentucky Youth Advocates and partners in the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children for the annual Children’s Advocacy at the Capitol coming up on January 23rd!