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Governor Expected to Sign Bill Taxing E-Cigarette, Vape Products

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Research from the CDC finds smoking-related illness costs the U.S. healthcare system more than $300 billion each year. (Adobe Stock)
Research from the CDC finds smoking-related illness costs the U.S. healthcare system more than $300 billion each year. (Adobe Stock)
 By Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY - Producer, Contact
April 3, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. - State lawmakers have passed a revenue bill that includes a new excise tax on e-cigarettes. The legislation now heads to the governor's desk.

E-cigarette pods, such as Juul, currently are the only tobacco products sold in the Commonwealth without a tax, and health experts say their relatively low cost is one reason why so many young Kentuckians are using them.

Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Chief Executive Officer Ben Chandler says the excise tax couldn't have come at a more appropriate time, as research points to smoking as a risk factor for developing serious complications from COVID-19.

"They themselves become more vulnerable when they harm their own lungs," says Chandler. "And when your lungs are compromised, you can't fight off the disease, and you become much more susceptible to tremendous damage."

Gov. Andy Beshear has been vocal about his support for the idea of taxing e-cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young adults are two to three times more likely to respond to price hikes on tobacco products than adults.

Teens who want help quitting vaping can text or call the 'My Life, My Quit' hotline at 855-891-9989.

Chandler says the new coronavirus pandemic highlights how critical it is to prevent future generations from becoming hooked on nicotine.

"We're willing to shut down the economy of this country, in order to try to maintain the health of our people," says Chandler. "And so hopefully, when this is over, people will understand just how precious their health is."

According to state data, around 80,000 middle- and high-school students in the Commonwealth use e-cigarettes.

Disclosure: Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Health Issues, Smoking Prevention, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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