Photo: Ruslan Alekso, Pexels
According to Kentucky Youth Advocates, about 35 states require retailers to hold a license to sell tobacco products, but Kentucky is not one of them.
Widespread vaping among young Kentuckians continues to be a public health concern — and some local communities are coming up with innovative ways to tackle the issue. A big win in the battle against nicotine came when the Commonwealth raised the age limit to purchase nicotine products to 21.
Lauren Carr, director of the Graves County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy and Prevention, said local shops are still selling vapes to kids. Her county is incentivizing business owners not to sell to minors.
"We reward the clerks that do not sell with a gift card," she said. "So we say, 'Hey, thank you for not selling to the kids. Because that is preventing it from getting into the schools.'"
Experts say tobacco retail licensing can help protect youth from the harmful effects of vaping and can also improve equity among low-income and communities of color, often targeted by the tobacco industry.
According to Kentucky Youth Advocates
, about 35 states require retailers to hold a license to sell tobacco products, but Kentucky is not one of them.
Sydney Shafer, a high school student in Scott County, said after her grandfather passed away from lung cancer, she became passionate about raising awareness among state lawmakers about the harms of vaping.
"Big vape companies are targeting younger audiences with fun flavors, like cotton candy and coffee," she argued. "It's deceptive and manipulative, and I would just want to educate other people and let them know that vaping is not as safe as they think."
Bruce Crouch, drug prevention officer with the Youth Coalition Prevention Group at Taylor County High School, said his school district recently received an opioid settlement grant from the state to expand drug prevention work.
"We actually started with our intermediate school, with fourth-graders," Crouch reported. "And we introduced a program, the 'Too Good for Drugs' program. So, they are actually getting that early education about the dangers of nicotine use."
This story was originally published by Public News Service and republished here with permission.
Research from the CDC
and FDA finds more than 2.5 million middle and high school students nationwide reported e-cigarette use in 2022. Nearly 85% of youth who vape used flavored e-cigarettes, and more than half used disposable e-cigarettes.