FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Dozens of people were at the State Capitol on Tuesday to rally for an issue they think should be a top priority this legislative session.
The issue is youth vaping.
The Coalition for a Smoke Free Tomorrow says e-cigarette use among high school students has nearly doubled and has quadrupled for middle school students from 2017 to 2019.
Abby Hefner is a 15 year old from McCracken County. She says she used e-cigarettes and was addicted for about a year.
“It was so easy for me because I didn’t know the dangers,” said Abby Hefner, Sophomore.
Hefner says she was a freshman in high school at her first football game when a friend offered her a Juul. Her friend said it tasted like mint gum.
Hefner tried it and she says she was hooked. On the same night as the football game, she bought her own Juul and started using it at school.
Hefner said she got detention in the first month she started vaping at school.
Stories like Hefner’s is the reason people want legislation that will make it harder for teens to get e-cigarettes.
The Coalition for a Smoke Free Tomorrow wants three things including a tax on e-cigarettes that’s equal to the current tax on other tobacco products, a change in the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, and an increase in funding to prevent people from using tobacco.
Senator Ralph Alvarado filed Senate Bill 56 that would raise the minimum age, eliminate charges against under age users, and instead would punish retailers for selling to kids.
“We’ve got to act now to curve this, stop it, make sure new kids aren’t getting hooked on cigarettes and on tobacco,” said Senator Ralph Alvarado.
Hefner says it took her four Juul devices and about a year to quit vaping.
“Now that I’ve stopped I don’t get paranoid all the time that I’m going to get in trouble and I feel closer with my friends,” said Hefner.
Hefner hopes her story will be a lesson for other teens.