Category Archives for "Legislation"

Mar 06

Lincoln Journal Star Letter, 3/5: Tobacco tax beneficial

Legislation , Policy

Nebraska’s cigarette tax hasn’t changed for 15 years. At 64 cents per pack, we have one of the lowest in the nation. However, this isn’t because we haven’t tried.

Another bill to increase the tax on tobacco products has been introduced by Sen. Sara Howard, and I hope this time’s the charm. Tobacco’s been costing Nebraskans far too much for far too long; health care spending directly related to tobacco use totals $795 million every year. A $1.50-per-pack tax increase as Sen. Howard has proposed has the potential to cause a great decline in smoking, saving $493 million in long-term health care costs.

The biggest benefit of this bill, however, would be to the health of Nebraskans. It’s proven that a meaningful tobacco tax increase can prevent youth from smoking, and encourages current smokers to quit. Abstaining from tobacco is beneficial to everyone’s health. Just five years after someone stops smoking, their risk of mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder cancers is cut in half.

I, as an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network advocate and high school student, would like to thank Sen. Howard for considering Nebraska’s health. I see the impact tobacco has on the well-being of my community and peers every day and understand what it is like to lose a loved one to the habit. I hope that Legislature takes this opportunity now to positively influence the future of every Nebraskan, smokers and non.

Brooklyn Larimore, Bellevue

 

Source: Lincoln Journal Star

Jan 06

Nebraska Legislator Introduces Bill to Raise Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

Headline , Legislation

Tobacco 21

A Nebraska state senator has introduced a bill that would make the sale of tobacco products to persons under 21-years-age illegal, as well as their possession or use.

On Thursday, State Sen. Merv Riepe (R-12) introduced Legislative Bill 73, which would not only raise the state’s minimum age to purchase tobacco and nicotine delivery products from 18 to 21-years-old, but also make it a crime for a person under 21 to possess or use such products. The bill seeks to make the latter a Class V misdemeanor, unless the person charged with the crime furnishes evidence for the conviction of the person or persons that sold or gave them said products.

In Nebraska, a Class V misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum of a $100 fine.

A person who provides tobacco products, vapor devices or alternative nicotine delivery products to a minor–whether by sale or other means–would face a Class III misdemeanor, which comes with a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment and/or a $500 fine.

Reipe is a retired hospital administrator who was elected chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee during Wednesday’s opening day of the legislative session.

Only two states have increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, Hawaii and California, while in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah the minimum age is 19-years-old, though a number of cities and counties have increased the minimum age on their own.

The bill has not yet been referred to a committee.

Source: Halfwheel

Jan 06

Bill to raise tobacco age among 93 introduced in Legislature

Headline , Legislation

Tobacco 21

LINCOLN — An Omaha senator wants Nebraskans to celebrate at least three additional birthdays before they can legally use tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Legislative Bill 73 would raise the age for smoking, chewing or vaping to 21 from the current minimum of 18. The bill was introduced Thursday in the Nebraska Legislature by State Sen. Merv Riepe, the new Health and Human Services Committee chairman.

Possession of tobacco by an underage person would be a misdemeanor offense with a maximum fine of $100.

Those caught selling tobacco products to customers under 21 would be guilty of a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of three months in jail and a $500 fine.

Riepe, a retired hospital administrator from Ralston, said the move to age 21 could prevent youth from starting smoking.

He said the change would make it easier for retailers because the ages for buying alcohol and tobacco would match. Nebraska driver’s licenses are oriented vertically, instead of horizontally, until a person turns 21.

Riepe said his goal is to help address a serious public health issue in a way that doesn’t increase taxes, like last year’s attempt to raise the tobacco tax.

About 7 percent of middle school students and 25 percent of high school students have used some kind of tobacco product, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2015.

“Young people need to get started on the right track,” Riepe said.

If the bill is approved, Nebraska would join California and Hawaii, he said.

Riepe’s proposal was among 93 bills, one constitutional amendment and three legislative resolutions tossed into the legislative hopper on the first day of bill introduction.

 

 

 

Source: The Independent

Jan 06

Proposed bill to increase age of buying tobacco, vaping products

Headline , Legislation

Tobacco 21

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – It’s no secret smoking is bad for us, under Nebraska state law anyone under the age of 18 is banned from buying tobacco.

A new proposed law from Sen. Merv Riepe would bump the age to buy those products to 21 but there’s also another product that raises some eyebrows, vapor products.

The devices are mostly battery operated-that give out small amounts of nicotine if the consumer wants it in the capsule-many times flavored and release vapors instead of smoke.

Eric Johnson who owns Caterpillar Vapes thinks the bill isn’t needed and says people shouldn’t compare cigarette smoking to vaping.

“You’ve got somebody who is 18 years of age who can make decisions on their own,” said Johnson, “When you start lumping them together it becomes imperative that you have the science to back it up and right now the science isn’t there.”

In LB 73, it states that the ‘health risks associated with smoking tobacco products have been scientifically proven’ and that ‘the growing number of minors who start smoking is staggering and even more abhorrent are the ages at which such children begin this deadly habit.’

Johnson says there are a lot of younger people vaping but he thinks it’s a better option.

“A lot of these kids either were smoking or were going to start or running down that path and they headed back this direction,” said Johnson.

This isn’t the first time the Nebraska legislature placed regulations on the vaping industry. In 2014 senators passed a law to make it illegal to sell vapor products to Nebraskans under the age of 18.

Johnson says the senators should look at the consequences of this bill before voting on it.

“I can guarantee you a lot of those people are not going to quit, they are going to find a way to keep going and their alternative is not going to be as good as the legal one that’s provided,” said Johnson.

As far as Johnson’s bottom line, he doesn’t think, if passed, the bill would hurt business too much.

The sponsor of this bill, Sen. Riepe is also the newly elected chair of the Health and Human Services committee.

Source: KMTV

Jan 06

Bill would ban sale, use of tobacco and e-cigs to Nebraskans under 21

Headline , Legislation

Tobacco 21

LINCOLN — An Omaha senator wants Nebraskans to celebrate at least three additional birthdays before they can legally use tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Legislative Bill 73 would raise the age for smoking, chewing or vaping to 21 from the current minimum of 18. The bill was introduced Thursday in the Nebraska Legislature by State Sen. Merv Riepe, the new Health and Human Services Committee chairman.

Possession of tobacco by an underage person would be a misdemeanor offense with a maximum fine of $100.

Those caught selling tobacco products to customers under 21 would be guilty of a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of three months in jail and a $500 fine.

Riepe, a retired hospital administrator from Ralston, said the move to age 21 could prevent youth from starting smoking.

He said the change would make it easier for retailers because the ages for buying alcohol and tobacco would match. Nebraska driver’s licenses are oriented vertically, instead of horizontally, until a person turns 21.

Riepe said his goal is to help address a serious public health issue in a way that doesn’t increase taxes, like last year’s attempt to raise the tobacco tax.

About 7 percent of middle school students and 25 percent of high school students have used some kind of tobacco product, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2015.

“Young people need to get started on the right track,” Riepe said.

If the bill is approved, Nebraska would join California and Hawaii, he said.

Source: Norfolk Daily News

Dec 21

Perrysburg, Ohio Rejects Parks Smoking Ban That Could Have Sent Smokers to Jail

Headline , Legislation , Policy

An ordinance that would have allowed for the sentencing of people to 30 days of jail time for smoking in certain areas of city parks was narrowly defeated in the northern Ohio city of Perryburg on Tuesday night.

The Perrysburg City Council voted 4-3 against the proposal, which sought to amend existing laws and make smoking in public gathering areas a fourth-degree misdemeanor, which comes with as much as a $250 fine and 30 days in jail according to ToledoBlade.com. The report indicates such spaces included athletic fields, shelters, picnic areas, city plazas, and playground equipment.

Perrysburg is located approximately 11 miles south of Toledo and 111 miles west of Cleveland. It had a 2013 population estimate of 21,377 people.

Source: Halfwheel

Dec 21

Increase of tobacco-buying age to 21 proposed to county commissioners

Headline , Legislation , Policy

Tobacco 21

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – Muskegon County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a resolution that supports raising the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products.

At a full board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 20, the commissioners unanimously voted to support an initiative called “Tobacco 21,” which aims to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

Behind the resolution is the Knowsmoke Coalition, a Muskegon County anti-smoking group. The resolution was introduced at board committee meeting Thursday, Dec. 15

Cyndi Powers, Knowsmoke Coalition co-chair, said reducing young peoples’ access to tobacco is the group’s focus.

“Studies have shown if we keep a child from smoking until after they’re 21, the chances of them being a long-term addicted smoker is a lot less,” Powers said.

According to an update from the One in 21 initiative, which is striving to make Muskegon County the state’s healthiest county by 2021, the rate of adult smoking in the county improved to slightly below the state average.

Kendall Stagg, director of safety net transformation and community health innovation for Trinity Health, said the next step is to inform the public about Tobacco 21.

“Beyond 200 jurisdictions have passed this law, so it truly is a national movement, it’s sweeping the nation,” Stagg said.

California and Hawaii, in addition to 212 cities and counties in the United States, have banned tobacco sales to people younger than 21-years-old, according to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation.

In Michigan, Ann Arbor became the first city to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the from 18 to 21. An ordinance was adopted by its city council in August.

Supporters of the Ann Arbor ordinance claimed it would make it harder for teens to be introduced to nicotine or tobacco products. However, opponents argued people younger than 21-years-old could drive to other municipalities to purchase those products.

Source: MLive

Dec 20

North Ridgeville, Ohio To Expand Smoking Ban

Headline , Legislation , Policy

The existing smoking ban in North Ridgeville, Ohio will be expanding, as the city has announced that as of Jan. 1, 2017, it will apply to all property or grounds owned, rented or leased by the city, including in or on private vehicles while parked on city property.

According to an announcement made via the city’s website, all uses of tobacco will be prohwibited, whether it be smoked, chewed or otherwise consumed. While fines for violators were not included in the announcement, a Q&A on the city’s website says that “Employees and visitors will be informed of the tobacco-free workplace environment policy through signs posted in City facilities/places/parks and City vehicles. Any violation of this policy by City of North Ridgeville employees will be handled through the standard disciplinary process.”

The city passed a smoking ban for its parks in April 2015 that went into effect last July.

North Ridgeville is home to just over 31,000 residents and is located 25 miles southwest of Cleveland.

Source: Halfwheel