1. Increase the tobacco tax by at least a $1.00 per pack;
2. Educate and advocate for laws that change the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21; and
3. Advocate for increased tobacco control funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended level.
During the 2016 legislative session, a bill was introduced to increase the tobacco tax by $1.00 per pack. Unfortunately, that bill was not voted out of committee during the session. We anticipate a similar bill being introduced during the 2017 legislative session.
There was a win for the Medicaid program's tobacco cessation coverage in the state in 2016. The Heritage Health Managed Care Organizations - Nebraska Total Care, WellCare and United Healthcare have agreed to adopt processes to provide a mechanism for the Medicaid population to get counseling through the state Quit Line (phone counseling service for tobacco users) and for the prior authorization to be sent directly to the respective managed care organization. This will avoid delays in the patient getting the medication they need to assist with quitting tobacco.
The American Lung Association in Nebraska and coalition partners will continue to press for increased tobacco control funding and passage of a substantial cigarette tax increase in the 2017 legislative session to prevent kids from starting to smoke and to motivate smokers to quit. We will also continue our work defending our state law that protects all Nebraskans from the dangers of secondhand smoke.