Category Archives for "Policy"

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

Feb 06

Elmwood banker chosen to replace Kintner


Elmwood banker Rob Clements is the governor’s pick fill the southeast Nebraska legislative seat left open with the resignation of Bill Kintner of Papillion.

In choosing Clements, Gov. Pete Ricketts bypassed a list of 35 formal applicants in favor of a man he called the “right person” for the job.

Clements was sworn in by Nebraska Chief Justice Mike Heavican immediately after Ricketts announced his appointment during a Monday afternoon press conference at the Capitol.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to represent the people in my district,” said Clements, 66, in brief remarks. “I know the state is facing difficult budget decisions, and I believe my background and experience will be of service during this process.”

He will represent Legislative District 2, which includes Cass County and portions of Sarpy and Otoe counties.

Ricketts’ appointment gives Clements a shot at significant time in office.

While the appointment itself lasts two years, Clements will then be eligible to run for two additional four-year terms, meaning he could be a senator through 2026.

Kintner announced his resignation Jan. 25 after sharing an offensive tweet that reignited calls for his removal from office. Talk of Kintner’s expulsion from the Legislature first started when he acknowledged using his state-owned laptop to have cybersex with a woman he met online in 2015.

Ricketts said Clements’ conservative principles, rural perspective and experience in finance “will reflect the values of the district.”

His great-great grandfather homesteaded in the Elmwood area in 1868 and helped found the community in 1886. His family has owned Elmwood’s American Exchange Bank for 79 years. The bank also has a branch in Eagle.

Clements met his wife of 44 years, Peggy, at Elmwood High School. They have five adult children and 10 grandchildren, with another on the way.

A former chairman of the Cass County Republican Party, Clements hasn’t held elected office before.
Ricketts said he hadn’t met Clements until he surfaced as a possible appointee last week.

In addition to the formal application process, Ricketts said his staff proactively sought more options in hopes of filling the seat quickly after Kintner resigned.

“We broadened it out to make sure we would get the best opportunity to find the right person, and that’s the way we found Sen. Clements,” the governor said.

Ricketts said he didn’t know why Clements did not apply through the formal process

Lawmakers haven’t yet decided which committees Clements will serve on.

Before he resigned, Kintner served as a member of the Legislature’s powerful Appropriations Committee. His replacement on the committee hasn’t been named.


Source: Lincoln Journal Star

Dec 22

Muskegon County, Mich. Commissioners Vote to Support Tobacco Purchase Age Increase

Headline , Policy

Tobacco 21

While an increase to the minimum age to purchase tobacco products isn’t official yet in Muskegon County, Mich., it certainly appears that the forthcoming proposal won’t meet any objection from county commissioners.

On Tuesday night, the nine-member Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to support an increase in the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21-years-old. The resolution, which was the work of a local anti-smoking and anti-tobacco group known as the Knowsmoke Coalition, still must become a proposed ordinance first, but it appears the board has cleared the way for the increase to become law.

Ann Arbor is the only municipality in Michigan to pass an increase to the tobacco purchasing age, increasing it to 21 in August.

Muskegon County is located in the western part of the state along Lake Michigan, with a population of approximately 173,000 residents.

Source: Halfwheel

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 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

Dec 19

Webinar: Public Health Law: A Tool to Address Emerging Health Concerns

Policy , Webinar

Law has long been used as a tool for protecting and promoting public health. This webinar, a presentation of the CDC’s December 2016 Grand Rounds, explores issues regarding the intersection of public health and the law, including tobacco use and smoking, and presents the history and legal background for many public health laws put in place in the United States.

Dec 19

Study: Nebraska spends too little on smoking prevention, cessation

Cessation , Headline , Policy , Research

An annual report from a coalition of health care groups claims Nebraska is shortchanging programs to help prevent people from taking up smoking and helping them to quit.

John Schachter, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, says Nebraska is falling far short.

“When it comes to spending on tobacco prevention programs, Nebraska is spending only 12.4% of what the Centers for Disease Control recommends,” Schachter says. “The state is spending $2.6 million a year on tobacco prevention, the CDC recommends it spend more along the lines of $20-million.”

Nationwide, tobacco companies spend more than $9 billion dollars a year to market their products, which doesn’t include another $100 million to market e-cigarettes.

By underfunding prevention and cessation programs, Schachter says Nebraska is missing a golden opportunity to save lives and cut tobacco-related health care costs.

“What’s even more distressing is that the state is collecting over $100 million in tobacco revenue from the settlement and tobacco taxes, so it’s spending barely two-and-a-half percent of that money on prevention programs,” Schachter says. “When it comes to the CDC rankings, Nebraska’s right in the middle at 25th, so it gets a failing grade along with most of the other states.”

Studies find Nebraska could save five-dollars in tobacco-related medical costs for every dollar spent on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

About 13% of Nebraska youth smoke along with 17% of adults, both of which are above the national average. One way to bring the numbers down is to raise the cost of cigarettes.

“Nebraska’s tax on cigarettes is very low,” he says. “It’s at 64-cents per pack, so that’s more than a dollar less than the national average of $1.69 per pack. We know that if the state increased it by at least a dollar, you would see huge decreases in smoking, especially among youth, you’d also raise millions of dollars for the state budget, you’d reduce health care costs.”

Of all cancer deaths in Nebraska, 27% of them are attributable to smoking. Schachter says tobacco use is the number-one cause of preventable death in Nebraska and nationwide.

Source: Nebraska Radio Network

Dec 15

National Report: Nebraska Ranks 25th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Headline , Policy

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Nebraska ranks 25th nationwide in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a report released today by a coalition of public health organizations. Nebraska is spending $2.6 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is just 12.4 percent of the $20.8 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report challenges states to do more to fight tobacco use – the nation’s No. 1 cause of preventable death – and help make the next generation tobacco-free. In Nebraska, 13.3 percent of high school students still smoke, and 1,000 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco use claims 2,500 Nebraska lives and costs the state $795 million in health care bills annually.

Other key findings in the report include:

Nebraska will collect $103.7 million in revenue this year from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only 2.5 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
Tobacco companies spend $60 million each year to market their deadly and addictive products in Nebraska – 23 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year on marketing – more than $1 million every hour.
“Nebraska is putting children’s health at risk and costing taxpayers money by refusing to fund tobacco prevention programs that save lives and health care dollars,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Because of the tremendous progress our country has made in reducing smoking, it is within our reach to win the fight against tobacco and make the next generation tobacco-free. Nebraska should be doing everything it can to protect kids from tobacco.”

Today’s report, titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 18 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and Truth Initiative.

Nationwide, the U.S. has cut smoking rates to record lows – 15.1 percent among adults and 10.8 percent among high school students in 2015. If recent progress in reducing adult smoking continues, the U.S. could eliminate smoking by around 2035, according to a recent analysis in The New England Journal of Medicine.

By funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the CDC’s recommended levels, the states can help achieve this goal. But today’s report finds most states are falling far short:

The states will collect $26.6 billion this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend less than 2 percent of it ($491.6 million) on tobacco prevention programs.
The $491.6 million that the states have budgeted for tobacco prevention is a small fraction of the $3.3 billion the CDC recommends. Only two states – North Dakota and Alaska – fund tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended levels.
States with well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention programs have seen remarkable progress. Florida, with one of the longest-running programs, reduced its high school smoking rate to 5.2 percent this year, one of the lowest rates ever reported by any state. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, the state of Washington saved more than $5 in health care costs for every $1 spent on the program.
Each year in the U.S., tobacco use kills more than 480,000 people and costs the nation at least $170 billion in health care expenses.

The report and state-specific information can be found at

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

SOURCE: Yahoo News