e-News October 22, 2020
Legislators Hear Testimony on Local Tobacco Control
The Coalition's top legislative priority got a hearing in the legislature September 22, when Sen. Julie Raque Adams and Rep. Kim Moser testified on the need to give local communities in Kentucky the ability to adopt tobacco-use reduction laws. Members of the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government also heard from John Cox, manager of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber, and Allison Adams, VP for public policy at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
Sen. Adams and Rep. Moser plan to file the local tobacco control bill in January 2021, when the legislature convenes for a 30-day session.
Local tobacco control is important because it gives cities and counties in Kentucky another set of tools they can use to reduce tobacco use and associated health care costs within their communities. Right now, a law on the books in Kentucky prohibits communities from passing such ordinances. That law passed in 1996 at the behest of Big Tobacco, which was working across the nation to overturn local tobacco-use reduction laws and prevent new ones.
"Allowing local control of the marketing and sales of tobacco products in Kentucky is the next logical and cost-free step for Kentucky to reduce tobacco related illness and the associated health care expenses, as well as business productivity losses, in our Commonwealth," Rep. Moser testified.
Sen. Adams added: "Kentucky has made some major progress in recent years at the statewide level, by requiring schools to be tobacco-free and raising the legal age from 18 to 21 to purchase tobacco products. I encourage you to allow local communities the option of going further, if they so choose."
"It's a very promising sign that the committee was willing to hear the local tobacco control topic now, well before the legislature convenes in January," said Ben Chandler, chair of the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow. "Next, after the election is over in November, legislators will need to hear from their constituents and elected officials in their districts that this bill is a priority."
COVID Underscores Need for Policies that Reduce Tobacco Use
Tobacco use increases the risk that COVID-19 will be more serious and lead to death among hospitalized patients, and that underscores the need for more policies to reduce tobacco use, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials said in a September blog post.
Moreover, at a time when the nation is focused on racial injustices, the disproportionate use of menthol products in the Black community has renewed calls for comprehensive restrictions on flavored tobacco products, the ASTHO post said.
Kentucky Partner News/Events
Interact for Health Study: NKY Smoking Rate as High as 32%
A new report released Oct. 11 by Interact for Health found that the adult smoking rate in rural areas Northern Kentucky was 32 percent, while the rate in urban areas was 23 percent. Both greatly exceed the national adult smoking rate of 14 percent. Below are some graphs of data from the report, which can be downloaded here.
Calendar of Upcoming Partner Events
November 10, 2020, 10am ET: Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy annual awards ceremony, celebrating smoke-free coalitions and policy wins. Register here.
December 1, 2020, 9:30am ET: Final Kentucky Tobacco Control Conference Webinar; Speaker Cianti Stewart-Reid of the Truth Initiative will discuss how Big Tobacco targets youth. Register here.
February 1-5, 2021: Children's Advocacy Week at the Capitol: Register now to learn about virtual and (we hope!) in-person events to promote the Blueprint for Kentucky's Children legislative priorities.
February 3, 2021: Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow Advocacy Day. Save the Date!
January 11, 2021, 2 pm ET: Stopping Vaping and Substance Use among youth; a free, one-hour webinar as part of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky's annual Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum. Register here.
Study: Youth/Young Adult E-Cig Use Increases Risk of COVID
Adolescents and young adults who use e-cigarettes are at much greater risk of COVID-19, according to a first-of-its-kind study published this month in Journal of Adolescent Health. The online national survey of 4,351 persons ages 13 to 24 found that:
- Those who had ever used e-cigarettes only were five times more likely to be diagosed with COVID-19;
- Those who had used both e-cigarettes and cigarettes in the past 30 days were 6.8 times more likely to get a COVID-19 diagnosis; and
- A COVID diagnosis was seven times more likely for those who had ever used both e-cigarettes and cigarettes.
Some racial an dethnic groups - especially Black, Hispanic and multirace youth - are at higher risk for COVID as well, the study found.
The study authors concluded that "health care providers, parents, schools, community-based organizations, and policymakers must help make youth aware of the connection between smoking and vaping and coronavirus disease." See more here.
Youth E-Cigarette Use Down
One in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students reported using e-cigarettes or "vapes" in 2020, down from more than one in four and one in 10 in 2019. That's a decline of 1.8 million kids who vape. Still, 3.1 million highschoolers and 550,000 middleschoolers are using these dangerous tobacco products in 2020, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than eight in 10 youth who use e-cigarettes report using flavored products.
Given the preference for flavors and the fact that the Food and Drug Administration's partial flavor ban exempted prefilled, disposable pod-based e-cigarettes, it should not be a surprise that use of the exempted flavored products increased by 1,000 percent among high schoolers and 400 percent among middle schoolers from 2019 to 2020.
Studies Confirm that E-Cigarettes Do NOT Help People Quit Smoking
Two recent studies confirm that e-cigarettes are not effective for smoking cessation, according to the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy.
"When compared with individuals who did not use e-cigs to quit, those who used e-cigarettes to try to quit were less likely to quit and more likely to continue to smoke e-cigarettes and become nicotine dependent," KCSP said in its Fall partner newsletter.
Coalition in the News
What Can You Do?
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Contact Your Elected Officials
Tell your elected officials in Frankfort and in your hometown that you support laws proven to reduce tobacco use and exposure to tobacco-related emissions in Kentucky. Our website has multiple resources you can share. Contact your state legislator by calling toll-free 800-372-7181 or sending an email.
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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!