There was nothing but support Monday for a legislative proposal to raise the legal age a person in Nebraska can purchase and use tobacco products from 19 to 21.
State Sen. Tom Briese of Albion introduced the bill, LB1064, in hopes that it will “reduce youth access to these products and help clear up confusion on the state level.”
Products included in this bill are cigarettes, cigars, electronic nicotine delivery systems, alternative nicotine products, and tobacco in any form.
In December, President Donald Trump signed a $1.4 trillion spending package that included raising the federal legal age of purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21. Nebraska raised their legal age from 18 to 19 at the beginning of the year.
Currently, at the federal level, it is illegal to sell tobacco to any persons under 21. This has caused much confusion with enforcement officers, purchasers, and retailers with which law to abide by.
“The FDA can do compliance checks in Nebraska at businesses enforcing the federal age limit and can issue a civil fine if that business is selling to 19- or 20-year old’s, even though under current state law it is legal in Nebraska,” Briese told the Legislature’s General Affairs Committee on Monday. Briese is also the committee’s chairman.
Meghan Stoppel, assistant attorney general and chief of the Consumer Protection Division in the Attorney General’s Office, who also supported the bill, explained this bill “also ensures that Nebraska continues to receive federal block grants.”
To receive these federal grants states must comply with underage sales laws of both cigarettes and tobacco products.
There was a letter from the American Cancer Action Network in opposition and a neutral letter from the American Heart Association.
The committee took no immediate action. If passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, the change would become law on June 1.