By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
FRANKFORT, Ky. — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday introduced bipartisan legislation to raise the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21 nationwide, including e-cigarettes. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is the co-sponsor of the bill.
The bill, called the Tobacco Free Youth Act, comes in response to the public health crisis smoking and tobacco-related products have caused, primarily targeting youth prevention.
Currently 14 states, and the District of Columbia, have raised the age to buy tobacco products to 21. During the 2019 Kentucky General Assembly a bill was filed by state Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, but failed in committee.
Kentucky and Virginia have the highest rate of death from smoking related illnesses, according to the Center for Disease Control.
In a statement, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Ashli Watts commended McConnell and the legislation.
“On behalf of the Kentucky business community, we want to thank Leader McConnell for his bold leadership today in introducing a bill that will raise the purchasing age of tobacco products to 21,” Watts said. “With Kentucky leading the nation in smoking related deaths, we know prevention is key to improving the health of our citizens and workforce.”