2020 Legislative Agenda Planning Underway
The Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow Steering Committee met May 10 to begin planning the agenda for the 2020 Kentucky legislative session. Among the priorities for the Coalition will be:
Tobacco 21 - This law would prohibit retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 (the current legal age to purchase tobacco in Kentucky is 18). The Coalition favors holding retailers responsible for underage sales and opposes a military exemption. Several bills will be in play in the U.S. Congress over the coming months as well, and they may mandate state action.
E-cigarette Excise Tax - Currently, e-cigarettes and vapes are subject only to sales taxes, but cigarettes and other tobacco products also are subject to state excise taxes. Given the popularity of e-cigs among youth and their sensitivity to prices, it makes sense to consider an e-cig tax parallel to the tax on cigarettes to help address the youth vaping epidemic.
Increased Cigarette Excise Tax - The legislature passed a 50 cent/pack increase in the cigarette tax in 2018, although the Coalition had advocated for a $1/pack increase to achieve significant health benefits. The need for revenues to address pension funding among other budget issues may present the opportunity to seek another $1/pack in 2020.
Over the next several weeks, Steering Committee members will be drafting position papers on each of these policy goals. We welcome your comments and suggestions to staff lead Bonnie Hackbarth at email@example.com. The Coalition Steering Committee comprises representatives of the organizations listed to the left of this column.
Kentucky Youth Vaping Doubles
E-cigarette use among youth in Kentucky doubled or nearly doubled from 2016 to 2018, according to the 2018 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention (KIP) Survey. Further, rates of vaping among Kentucky youth are much higher than national average rates. KIP found that 26.7 percent of Kentucky 12th graders and 14.2 percent of 8th graders were using e-cigarettes.
Retail Chains Raise Tobacco Purchasing Age to 21
Walmart, Sam's Club, Walgreens and Rite Aid recently announced that they would stop selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 at their U.S. retail stores beginning this summer. In addition, Walmart said it would stop selling fruit- and dessert-flavored e-cigarettes. Walgreens also is testing "tobacco-free" stores in Deerfield, Ill., and Gainesville, Florida, CVS Caremark stopped selling tobacco products in its stories in 2014.
FDA Allows IQOS Heated Tobacco Product to Be Sold in U.S.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will allow Philip Morris to sell its IQOS heated tobacco product in the U.S. saying, in part, ". . . today's action . . . does not mean these products are safe or 'FDA approved.' All tobacco products are potentially harmful and addictive and those who do not use tobacco products should continue not to." IQOS is an electronic device that heats tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper to generate a nicotine-containing aerosol; it delivers nicotine at levels close to combustible cigarettes. The FDA decision does not allow claims that the product reduces risks associated with tobacco use. Read more here.
FDA Ordered to Speed Up E-Cig Review, NC Files Lawsuit Against Juul
Saying that the FDA's decision to delay reviewing e-cigarettes for several years was "so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities," a federal court in Maryland has ordered the agency to speed up its process for regulating the products, which have been on the market for several years without any rules or standards. Several public health groups had filed the lawsuit, saying the lack of FDA oversight led to the surge in adolescent and teen vaping. The court gave the FDA two weeks to submit a plan for moving forward with the reviews.
Meanwhile, the North Carolina Attorney General has filed the first state lawsuit against Juul, manufacturer of the most popular e-cigarette, alleging that the company's marketing practices helped bring on the youth e-cig epidemic.
Partner and Member News
Annual Smoke-Free Conference Celebrates Eight New Kentucky Ordinances
More than 230 health advocates and others working to reduce smoking-related illnesses in Kentucky gathered for the 2019 Kentucky Tobacco Conference, "Envisioning a Smoke-free Future," in Lexington April 16-17. The conference was hosted by the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy and the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Award winners this year were:
Smoke-free Excellence in E-Cigarette Policy Award: City of Elizabethtown for leadership in amending comprehensive smoke-free ordinance to include e- cigarettes.
Lee T. Todd, Jr. Smoke-free Hero Award: Liz Burrows, Health Educator for Oldham County Health Department, for her commitment to smoke and tobacco free environments in the face of adversity.
Timothy W. Mullett, MD Lung Cancer Prevention Award: Ashley Gibson, research coordinator for St. Claire Healthcare for her devotion and passion for preventing lung cancer through education, advocacy and policy change.
Brian Early Mattone Esq. Legal Counsel Smoke-free Support Award: David Nunery for outstanding smoke-free legal service.
Smoke-free Indoor Air Excellence Award: Cities of La Grange, Martin, Murray, Paducah, Stanford, Williamstown, as well as Hardin and Oldham counties.
David B. Stevens, MD Smoke-free Advocate of the Year: Rick Skinner, mayor of Williamstown, for promoting the secondhand smoke education and smoke-free policy.
PSAs Feature Kentucky Youth Sharing What They "Just Didn't Know" about E-cigs
The Foundation for a Health Kentucky has launched a peer education campaign to debunk false beliefs held by many adolescents and teens that using e-cigarettes is harmless, or at least healthier for them than smoking. The "I Just Didn't Know" campaign includes public service announcements featuring several students from around Kentucky sharing what they've learned about the dangers of using e-cigarettes for youth.
The campaign also includes an Instagram account, a website with information and tools for parents, guardians and teachers, and a YouTube channel. The PSAs have begun showing on TV stations and cable networks across Kentucky. The Foundation also is making the PSAs and other materials available free to schools, youth groups, health departments and other organizations to spread the word about the dangers of the youth vaping epidemic.
Health Groups Urge FDA to Investigate Juul Over Smoking Cessation Claims
Several Coalition members are local affiliates of a group of leading public health and medical organizations that called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate and take enforcement action against Juul for making unauthorized claims that the company's e-cigarettes help users stop smoking.
In a letter to the FDA, the health groups said Juul's current marketing campaign makes unauthorized and unproven smoking cessation claims by urging smokers to "make the switch" from cigarettes to Juul. One highlighted newspaper ad repeats the phrase "Quit. Start Smoking Again" 30 times and concludes with the word switch and then the statement, "The average smokers tries to quit 30 times. Make the switch."
"Juul, a product that FDA has found to be largely responsible for the current epidemic of youth usage of highly addictive e-cigarettes, is being advertised and marketed on a massive scale as a smoking cessation product, without the required review and approval by FDA," the letter states.
Members/Partners in the News
As e-cigarette epidemic grew among teens, state inspected fewer retailers
Tobacco-free school law, coming in 2020, is none too soon when e-cigarettes are epidemic among teens, Paducah doctor writes
Kentucky teens' use of electronic cigarettes and vapes doubled from 2016 to 2018, and is higher than national rates, survey finds
Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Unveils Campaign to Control Vaping Epidemic
Cancer patients face sticker shock under short-term plans, study finds
FDA Must Not Allow IQOS to Become the Next Juul Among Kids
Hundreds expected to attend American Lung Association Derby Eve Gala
Thousands participate in walk to fight heart disease
Tobacco-free school law will decrease student addiction
Want to join us?
Does your organization want to help make Kentucky healthier by reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke? Click here to join our Coalition. Or email Alexa Kerley, firstname.lastname@example.org. It's FREE to join!