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Tobacco use in Kentucky

Smoking rates in Kentucky compared to the national averageCigarette use: Kentucky*

  • In 2016, 24.5 percent of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 17.1 percent.¹
  • In 2017, 14.3 percent of high school students smoked on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 8.8 percent.²

Other tobacco product use: Kentucky

  • In 2015, 3.7 percent of adults used e-cigarettes, 3.8 percent used smokeless tobacco and 2.5 percent smoked cigars.³
  • In 2017, 14.1 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes, 10.6 percent used smokeless tobacco and 11.0 percent smoked cigars on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rates were 13.2 percent, 5.5 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively.²

Chart showing how much each tobacco product is used in Kentucky

Economics of tobacco use and tobacco control

  • Kentucky received $371 million (estimated) in tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2018.
  • Of this, the state allocated $2.6 million in state funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2018, just 4.6 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.
  • Smoking-related health care costs: $1.92 billion per year
  • Smoking-related losses in productivity: $2.79 billion per year

Kentucky tobacco laws

Tobacco taxesKentucky cigarette tax

  • Kentucky is ranked 35th in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of $1.10 per pack (enacted July 2018), compared with the national average of $1.73. (Connecticut and New York have the highest tax at $4.35 and Missouri has the lowest at 17 cents.)⁶ ⁷ 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 percent 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 and recreational/cultural facilities.⁶ ⁷

Youth access laws

  • The minimum age of sale for tobacco products is 18 and penalties exist for both minors and merchants who violate this law.⁶ ⁷
  • 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

  • The CDC estimates 46.4 percent of daily adult smokers in Kentucky quit smoking for one or more days in 2016.
  • In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required Medicaid programs cover all quit medications.**
  • Kentucky’s state quit line invests 32 cents per smoker, compared with the national average of $2.10.
  • Kentucky does not have a private insurance mandate provision for quitting tobacco.

Notes and references

Updated June 2018

*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, 2016.
  2. CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2017.
  3. CDC, State-Specific Prevalence of Tobacco Product Use Among Adults - United States, 2014-2015, MMWR.
  4. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Broken Promises to Our Children: a State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 19 Years Later FY2018, 2017.
  5. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Toll of Tobacco in the United States, 2018.
  6. American Lung Association, SLATI State Reports, 2017.
  7. American Lung Association, State of Tobacco Control, 2018.
  8. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates & Rankings, 2018.
  9. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, 2016.