KY senator wants to raise price of cigarettes to create new medical fund

Updated: Dec. 7, 2017 at 8:24 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - The cost of a pack of cigarettes in Kentucky could go up in 2018 if a bill passes to create a fund for the treatment of tobacco-related illnesses.

Kentucky Senator Stephen Meredith (R-District 5) pre-filed BR 224 Wednesday. It aims to create a Medicaid tobacco-related illness reimbursement fund.

To do that, the bill would increase the cost of a pack of cigarettes in Kentucky by $1.

>> Read BR 224 in its entirety

The money raised would actually be split between two new funds created by the bill. Most of it -- 90% -- would be deposited into the new Medicaid fund and the other 10% would be deposited in a new county tobacco cessation fund.

Senator Meredith states in the bill that the money could not be used to expand Medicaid, only to reimburse the state for paying to treat people with tobacco-related illnesses.

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The county tobacco cessation fund would only benefit communities with a minimum smoke-free ordinance. That would include banning smoking "in all workplaces; in all buildings open to the public; and within 15 feet of entrances to all workplaces and buildings open to the public."

County health departments could only use the money to run tobacco cessation programs.

The bill aims to add e-cigarettes to the state's definition of tobacco products, as well.

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Meredith says he hopes this would help some people quit smoking and eventually reduce healthcare premiums.

The bill would go into effect Oct. 1, 2018 if lawmakers pass it.

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