Tobacco use in Kentucky 2021
Cigarette use: Kentucky*
Cigarette smoking rates in Kentucky
- In 2020, 21.4% of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 15.5%.1
- In 2019, 8.9% of high school students in Kentucky smoked cigarettes on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 6.0%.2
Other tobacco product use: Kentucky
Vaping rates in Kentucky
- In 2017, 6.1% of adults in Kentucky used e-cigarettes.3
- In 2020, 6.1% of adults in Kentucky used smokeless tobacco.3
- In 2019, 26.1% of high school students in Kentucky used electronic vapor products on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 32.7%.2
- In 2019, 6.4% 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 3.8%.2
- In 2019, 7.9% 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 5.7%.2
Economics of tobacco use and tobacco control
Kentucky cigarette tax
- Kentucky received $503.3 million (estimated) in revenue from tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2021.4
- Of this, the state allocated $2.0 million in state funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2021, 3.5% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.4
- Smoking-related health care costs: $1.92 billion per year.4
- Smoking-related losses in productivity: $2.79 billion per year.5
Kentucky tobacco laws
Kentucky smoking laws
- Kentucky is ranked 37th in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of $1.10 per pack (enacted July 2018), compared with the national average of $1.91. (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, at body piercing and tattooing workstations, and by childcare professionals in the presence of a child. Local boards of education must implement policies prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in or on school-owned or leased property and at school events.9
- Wholesalers are required to obtain a license to sell tobacco products. Retailers are not required to obtain a license to sell tobacco products.6
- A license is not required to sell e-cigarette products.9
Youth Access Laws
- Effective December 2019, the United States adopted a law raising the federal minimum age of sale of all tobacco products to 21. Some states have not yet raised their state minimum age of sale, however, the federal law takes precedence.
- Establishments are required to post signs stating that sales to underage consumers are prohibited.6,7
- Underage consumers are prohibited from buying, possessing, and using vapor products, including e-cigarettes.6,7
- The sale or distribution of vapor products, including free samples, to underage persons is prohibited.9
- Vending machines must be inaccessible to underage persons or in line of sight of cashier.9
Quitting statistics and benefits
Quitting vaping and smoking in Kentucky
- The CDC estimates 47.0% of daily adult smokers in Kentucky quit smoking for one or more days in 2019.3
- In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required Medicaid programs cover all quit medications.7**
- Kentucky’s state quit line invests 73 cents per smoker, compared with the national average of $2.28.7
- Kentucky has a private insurance mandate provision for quitting tobacco.7
Notes and references
Updated August 2021
*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, 2020.
2. CDC, Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System, 2019.
3. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, 2021.
4. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Broken Promises to Our Children: a State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 22 Years Later FY2021, 2020.
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, 2021.
8. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates & Rankings. https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0097.pdf. Accessed.
9. Public Health Law Center. U.S. E-Cigarette Regulation: 50-State Review. http://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/resources/us-e-cigarette-regulations-50-state-review. Accessed.