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Fact Sheet Fact Sheet

Tobacco use in Kentucky 2019

Cigarette use: Kentucky*

Cigarette use in Kentucky

  • In 2017, 24.6% of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 17.1%.1
  • In 2017, 14.3% of high school students in Kentucky smoked cigarettes on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 8.8%.2
Cigarette use in Kentucky graphic

Other tobacco product use: Kentucky

E-cigarette and smokeless tobacco use in Kentucky

  • In 2017, 6.1% of adults used e-cigarettes and 7.6% used smokeless tobacco.3
  • In 2017, 14.1% of high school students in Kentucky used electronic vapor products on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 13.2%.2
  • In 2017, 10.6% of high school students in Kentucky used chewing tobacco, snuff or dip on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 5.5%.2
  • In 2017, 11.0% of high school students in Kentucky smoked cigars, cigarillos or little cigars on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 8.0%.2
Other tobacco product use in Kentucky graphic

Economics of tobacco use and tobacco control

Economics of tobacco use in Kentucky

  • Kentucky received $507.3 million (estimated) in revenue from tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2019.4
  • Of this, the state allocated $3.8 million in state funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2019, 6.7% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.4
  • Smoking-related health care costs: $1.92 billion per year4
  • Smoking-related losses in productivity: $2.79 billion per year5
Cigarette tobacco tax in Kentucky graph

Kentucky tobacco laws

Cigarette tax in Kentucky

Tobacco taxes 

  • Kentucky is ranked 36th in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of $1.10 per pack (enacted July 2018), compared with the national average of $1.81. (The District of Columbia has the highest tax at $4.50 and Missouri has the lowest at 17 cents.)6-8
  • Moist snuff is taxed at 19 cents per unit of 1.5 ounces or less. Chewing tobacco is taxed at 19 cents per each single unit, 40 cents per each half pound unit and 65 cents per each pound unit. All other tobacco products are taxed at 15% of the wholesale price.6,7

Clean indoor air ordinances

  • Smoking restrictions are required in government workplaces (prohibited in state government buildings) and schools.6,7
  • There are no smoking restrictions in private workplaces, childcare facilities, restaurants, bars, casinos/gaming establishments, retail stores or recreational/cultural facilities.6,7
  • The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited on all properties owned or operated by the state’s executive branch, in courtrooms and hallways of Hardin District Court, in underground mines, and by child care professionals in the presence of children.9

Youth Access Laws

  • The minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Kentucky is 21. In December 2019, the United States adopted a law raising the federal minimum age of sale of all tobacco products to 21, effective immediately.
  • Establishments are required to post signs stating that sales to minors are prohibited.6,7
  • Minors are prohibited from buying alternative tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.6,7

Quitting statistics and benefits

Quitting statistics in Kentucky

  • The CDC estimates 48.4% of daily adult smokers in Kentucky quit smoking for one or more days in 2017.3
  • In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required Medicaid programs cover all quit medications.7**
  • Kentucky’s state quit line invests 64 cents per smoker, compared with the national average of $2.21.7
  • Kentucky does not have a private insurance mandate provision for quitting tobacco.7

Notes and references

Updated April 2019

*National and state-level prevalence numbers reflect the most recent data available. This may differ across state fact sheets.

**The seven recommended quitting medications are NRT gum, NRT patch, NRT nasal spray, NRT inhaler, NRT lozenge, Varenicline (Chantix) and Bupropion (Zyban).
Fiore MC, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service: May 2008.

1. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2017.

2. CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2017.

3. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, 2017.

4. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Broken Promises to Our Children: a State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 20 Years Later FY2019, 2018.

5. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Toll of Tobacco in the United States.

6. American Lung Association, State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues (SLATI).

7. American Lung Association, State of Tobacco Control, 2019.

8. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates & Rankings.

9. Public Health Law Center. U.S. E-Cigarette Regulation: 50-State Review.