As the Kentucky Legislature get ready to open up its 2020 sessions, Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, has pre-filed a bill that seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21-years-old.
B.R. 967 would prohibit the sale of tobacco, alternative nicotine, or vapor products to persons under the age of 21, and make it unlawful for persons under 21 to buy tobacco, alternative nicotine, or vapor products. As a deterrent, the bill provides for a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $500 for a person over the age of 18 who violates the age restrictions. It would also make administrative changes to how violations are handled by persons under 18.
In announcing the bill’s filing, Alvarado, who is a practicing physician and chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, cited the recent epidemic when it came to youth and vaping products as one of the key motivators for his proposal.
A similar bill introduced during the 2019 session failed to clear the Senate’s Agriculture Committeee.
Should it pass, the increase would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. Currently, 18 states have passed similar legislation, generally referred to as Tobacco 21 bills. There is also legislation being considered at the federal level that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products to 21-years-old across the country.
The Kentucky Legislature is scheduled to begin its upcoming session on Jan. 7.
Update (Jan. 15, 2020) — This is now SB 56.