By: Bill Schammert
According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of teenagers smoking E-Cigarettes has doubled in just the last year. Now, Sen. Russ Karpisek is looking to limit access to minors.
"I was concerned to learn there was nothing in Nebraska law to prevent a minor from using these vapor products," Sen. Karpisek testified on Monday.
A hearing on LB-861 was held Monday afternoon in front of the General Affairs Committee. As it stands right now, technically, anyone of any age can purchase E-Cigarette products in Nebraska. However, many store owners restrict access to anyone under 18 on their own.
Max Velinski just opened up Generation V E-Cigarettes and Vapor Bar in Lincoln. He testified Monday in support of the bill.
"We do that in all of our locations, whether there's a law in place or not," he said.
Senator Karpisek said the last thing he wants to do is hurt sales or store owners, but he wants to help the industry look more professional and prevent minors from getting a hold of the products.
The bill would also force retailers to sell the product behind the counter and get ride of in-store displays, unless that store is a specialty tobacco store that does more than 75% of its business in such sales.
Although nobody testified against banning minors from using the product, there were some questions about the bill's language and what would qualify as a specialty tobacco store.
David Holmquist of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network says research has yet to show whether e-cigarettes pose health risks. Holmquist also raised concerns that e-cigarettes could reverse years of work by advocates to make cigarettes socially unappealing.