Bill would raise smoking age to 21

Nebraska teenagers would be prohibited from buying and smoking tobacco products under legislation introduced by Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston.
    According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use causes more than 6 million deaths annually, making it the leading cause of preventable death worldwide.
    Riepe said 95 percent of adult smokers start smoking before age 21, and the purpose of LB 73 is to delay the age at which people start smoking. The bill would also increase the age gap between young teens and those who can legally purchase tobacco, Riepe said, which would help to keep tobacco products out of high schools.
    Seven proponents testified in favor of the proposed bill at a Feb. 16 General Affairs Committee hearing, including representatives from the American Lung Association as well as an 8th grade student at Lincoln’s Scott Middle School who spoke to the importance of preventing young teens access to tobacco products.

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