Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
The passage of Senate Bill 218 is a moment that deserves recognition for elevating a growing issue impacting too many Kentucky kids and to push our elected leaders to seize common-sense opportunities that invite their action to protect our young people.
Certainly, the good news is that Senator Brandon Smith’s leadership has animated the conversation around preventing youth from getting hooked on nicotine. SB 218 begins to address the rising epidemic of kids’ use of e-cigarettes, and that is a beginning step around an issue that demands the very real attention of our elected leaders, health professionals, educators, and the students themselves.
As good of a win that SB 218 is, it also reminds us that the potential of additional far-reaching legislation in this arena remains unfulfilled. SB 218 can be a catalyst for progress around kids’ health on at least two fronts that are still before the Kentucky General Assembly. First, we need to increase the age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21 years old. And secondly, we need to establish a statewide, comprehensive tobacco-free school campus policy.
Putting kids’ health before tobacco and e-cigarette company interests is not just an opportunity; rather, it is a moral obligation. And that obligation should be prioritized over political pressures and practical inconveniences to maintain the status quo when it comes to kids and their health, including their brain development now and risk of nicotine addiction and potential cancer diagnoses in the future.
We thank Senator Smith for sponsoring SB 218 and the Kentucky Senate for supporting this legislation. We now call upon our Senators and our Representatives to leverage this towards further progress on this critical and timely public health front. Kentucky cannot – and should not – continue to be America’s cancer capital and changing that begins with youth-based tobacco protections.
Stay up-to-date on Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities and other bills that are good for kids on our Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.
About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at www.kyyouth.org.