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(Neb.)-E-Cigarettes Now Illegal For Minors, Extended Alcohol Sales

By: Roxie Graham-Marski Posted at: 04/18/2014 11:34 AM

(PANHANDLE)-Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed a bill into legislation last week that involves the sale of e-cigarettes and extended alcohol sales. Legislative Bill 863 adds vapor products to the list of tobacco-based items that are illegal to sell to minors under 18 and offers a 2:00 a.m. closing for alcohol on off-sale premises.
 
The Panhandle Prevention Coalition (PPC) says it is pleased that e-cigarettes are now included in the current state statute. The new law includes alternative nicotine products and vapor products, restricting smoking and the use of tobacco by minors. It also:
--Creates “Alternative Nicotine Product” and “Vapor Product” categories
--Adds “Vapor Products” and “Alternative Nicotine Products” in the current state statute that prohibits the sale, giving, or furnishing of tobacco products, cigarettes, or cigarette papers to minors.
--Creates a “Tobacco Specialty Stores” category. These stores derive at least 75 percent of revenue from tobacco products, tobacco derived products, vapor products or alternative nicotine products and do not permit minors under the age of 18 to enter the premises unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
--Restricts self-service tobacco, tobacco-derived, vapor products, or alternative tobacco product displays except in tobacco specialty stores or cigar bars. Penalties for two self-service displays in 12 months include a six-month license suspension.
 
The PPC recommends businesses reevaluate their tobacco\smoke-free policies to include e-cigarettes. Tobacco Free in the Panhandle coordinator Tabi Prochazka says, “Businesses have the authority to prohibit the use of these products within their business. It is in the best interest of a business to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes because their appearance is so similar to conventional cigarettes that there could be confusion by the public about whether or not the business is in compliance with the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act,” stated Prochazka. She also says that technical assistance and signage is available to any business wanting to strengthen their tobacco policy.
 
In addition to the restriction on e-cigarettes for youth, Prochazka says the law could negatively affect communities by allowing the extension of off premises alcohol sales. Off premises sales is the purchase of any alcohol you buy and take with you, such as liquor stores, convenience stores, or grocery stores. This bill gives communities the option to increase the hours or to leave closing time at 1:00 a.m.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests reduced hours of sale as a way for communities to foster an environment that does not promote heavy, binge drinking behavior among adults and youth. This law allows for the increases of hours of sale, promoting heavy, binge drinking behavior among adults and youth. The state of Nebraska ranks ninth in the nation for adult binge drinking and seventh in the nation for adolescent binge drinking.
 
In 2010, extended hours for on sale premises (bars, restaurants) passed, and only two Panhandle communities adopted a city ordinance that would allow on sales premises to close at 2:00 a.m.
 
"Increased hours of sale will increase hours of consumption," stated Lanette Richards, who serves as project coordinator for Monument Prevention Coalition in Scottsbluff and is also a member of the PPC. "We anticipate that the new law will follow suit minimizing the negative impact on adults and youth."
 
The PPC is a part of the Panhandle Partnership for Health and Human Services and is comprised of local community coalitions and a regional coalition united together by a passion and dedication to healthy and safe people across the lifespan. Their efforts include, but are not limited to, reducing underage drinking, binge drinking, drinking and driving, tobacco prevention and prescription drug abuse in the Nebraska Panhandle. The PPC and PPHD work together to improve the health, safety and quality of life for all who live, learn, work and play in the Panhandle. For additional information visit www.panhandlepreventioncoalition.org or www.pphd.org or call PPHD at 308-487-3600, ext 107 or toll-free at 866-701-7173.
 
--Panhandle Public Health District


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