e-News March 11, 2021
Local Tobacco Control Looking Unlikely in 2021
Just five legislative days remain to pass one of two bills that would wrest control of tobacco product marketing in Kentucky from Big Tobacco companies and return
it to locally elected officials. That's highly unlikely, advocates say. If the bills do fail this year, Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow Chair Ben Chandler said he would strongly support retooling the local tobacco control campaign for the 2022 General Assembly.
Despite sponsorsip from leading lawmakers - Sen. Julie Raque Adams, majority caucus chair; and Rep. Kim Moser, chair of the Health and Family Services Committee - who filed bills in their respective chambers during the very first days of the 2021 General Assembly, the measures have yet to be assigned to a committee. Bill assignment decisions are made by leadership in each legislative chamber. Without a committee hearing and subsequent floor action, the bills will die when the session adjourns on March 31.
The news comes even as a recent survey showed e-cigarette smoking has increased among some youth during the COVID-19 pandemic (see next story). Moreover, the bipartisan bills enjoyed strong support from both local elected officials and business leaders:
"One of the most critical functions of city governments in Kentucky is the protection of public health, and giving the communities the ability to make local decisions regarding the regulation of tobacco helps advance that important mission," said Kentucky League of Cities CEO J.D. Chaney.
Hazard Perry County Chamber of Commerce president Betsy Clemons added, "I believe local tobacco control is so important, especially in Eastern Kentucky where we have a major focus on the importance of a healthy workforce as well as improving the health and lives of our youth and citizens in rural Kentucky."
"It's been tough - even in the midst of a pandemic that is deadlier to smokers, and in large part, because of necessary pandemic restrictions - to convince legislators how essential local tobacco control is to improving Kentucky's health," said Ben Chandler, chair of the Coalition. "When they can't see advocates in the halls of the capitol every day, week after week, it's easier for them to forget that this measure provides important tools for improving health at the community level. But we cannot forget that Kentucky is the cancer capital of the nation, largely due to smoking. So I will be pushing to go at it again in 2022 with renewed passion and even stronger, more vocal grass roots support."
Kentucky Students Say Pandemic Led to Increased E-Cigarette Use
More than a third of Kentucky middle and high schoolers responding to a recent survey say the pandemic has increased students using e-cigarettes, or "vapes," and other tobacco products. And more than 14 percent said they believe e-cigarettes are safer for them to smoke than traditional cigarettes, according to the survey, conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Kentucky Youth Advocates.
A total of 400 middle and high school students from 22 Kentucky counties responded to the survey, which was fielded in November and December 2020.
While it is difficult to measure exactly how the pandemic is affecting youth tobacco use, the survey offers some alarming insight. More than half of youth who expressed an opinion about how pandemic impacted their peers said they believed that it increased tobacco use (39.2 percent of the total).
The survey also found that 14 percent of youth believe e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes.
A copy of the survey report is available here.
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Coalition Members/Partners in the News
Did You Know?
Youth E-cig Users Wrongly Believe They're Safe from Covid-19
A new study found a strong association between Covid-19 and youth e-cigarette use.
"Adolescents may blindly believe that their age protects them from contracting COVID-19; however, new study data show this is not true among those who vape," authors said. They added:
"... [T]he latest research suggests that one in three young adults are vulnerable to falling seriously ill, with those who smoke being particularly at risk."
Learn more here.
Tobacco Use Among Black Populations
According to a new report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
• For more than 60 years, the tobacco industry has deliberately targeted the Black community, especially youth, with marketing for menthol cigarettes and other tobacco products like flavored cigars.
• Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death among Black Americans, claiming 45,000 Black lives every year.
• Menthol cigarettes are a major reason why Black Americans suffer unfairly and disproportionately from tobacco use.
• Research also demonstrates that menthol cigarettes are more addictive and harder to quit, magnifying the public health impact on Black communities.
• Menthol cigarettes increase the number of youth and young adults who experiment with cigarettes and become regular smokers. Young people who start smoking with menthol cigarettes are more likely to become addicted and long-term daily smokers.
• In 2020, cigars were the most commonly used tobacco product among Black high school students.
Learn more here: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Menthol Tobacco Use in Northern Kentucky & Cincinnati
A new report from Interact for Health Found that, among adult smokers in the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati region, 68% of African American smokers use menthol products, compared to 19 percent of white smokers.
The survey also found that, if menthol were banned in cigarettes, 44 percent of smokers in the region would try to quit.
See graphic below about the survey and learn more here.
Interact for Health - Survey includes eight Northern Kentucky counties.
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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