House Bill 83, sponsored by House Agriculture and Small Business Chair Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, would expand the state’s definition of reference tobacco – or tobacco products made specifically for research and not for public use – to include smokeless tobacco products like snuff and a moist snuff called snus labeled specifically for research and experimental purposes.
Current state law limits the definition of reference tobacco to cigarettes.
Reference tobacco product work in Kentucky currently takes place exclusively at the University of Kentucky which is in the process of applying for a $7 million federal grant for reference tobacco research. The recipient of that grant is expected to be announced by the Federal Drug Administration next month.
A floor amendment to HB 83 sponsored by Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, would allow any accredited college or university in the state to engage in reference tobacco research. It would also exempt reference tobacco products from tobacco excise taxes. The amendment was approved by a vote of 92-1.
HB 83 as amended passed the House by a vote of 94-0. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.