With vaping rates quadrupling among Kentucky teens, the Coalition for A Smoke-Free Tomorrow is holding a news conference and rally Tuesday at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.
Chairman Ben Chandler wants an excise tax on vaping products to discourage their usage. The Coalition, made up of groups like the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, the Northern Kentucky Chamber and the Northern Kentucky Health Department, will announce a series of proposals Tuesday at a 10:00 a.m. news conference, including the tax.
"The principle thing is to try to increase the tax on e-cigarettes because we know what the data shows us - if you cause the product to be a little more expensive, usage will go down," says Chandler.
Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, announced this summer she would co-sponsor an e-cigarette excise tax. Moser will be at Tuesday's rally.
Chandler is worried vaping is a gateway to other drugs. "Middle schoolers and high schoolers, all of their brains are still developing," he says. "It causes a developing brain to be more likely to be addicted to other things in the future. I know especially in the northern part of the state, we have a tremendous problem with opioid use."
On Jan. 10 the state announced its "first probable fatality related to vaping." The Kentucky Department for Public Health says it was a man in his 20s.
The death comes as a Cincinnati FDA lab continues to analyze vaping samples for a broad range of chemicals including nicotine, THC, other cannabinoids, along with cutting agents/diluents and other additives, pesticides, opioids, poisons, heavy metals and toxins.
The FDA confirms the Forensic Chemistry Center is one of the labs doing the testing. A spokesman tells WVXU, "Every day the FDA and partners are gathering more information and seek to use that information to better understand the relationship between any specific products or substances and the reported illnesses.
To date, the CDC reports 57 people have died nationwide from illnesses related to vaping.