Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Nebraska. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Nebraska's elected officials:
- Increase funding for tobacco control programs;
- Increase tobacco taxes by $1.00 per pack or more; and
- Increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21.
The American Lung Association in Nebraska supported Legislative Bill 438, a bill that would have increased Nebraska's tobacco taxes by $1.50 per pack. The Lung Association and partner organizations sponsored a joint lobby day to educate Senators on the importance of increased tobacco taxes. Unfortunately, the bill did not advance during the 2018 session.
On November 6, 2018 Nebraska residents voted yes on Initiative 427, a law that will bring $1.1 billion tax dollars back to Nebraska, sustain 10,000 jobs, and give Nebraskans a voice in expanding Medicaid. The American Lung Association in Nebraska supports Initiative 427 for a number of reasons, including that it could extend access to quit smoking treatments and services to a subset of Nebraskans that smoke at higher rates than the general population. A cigarette tax increase could also be a natural funding source for the Medicaid expansion if one is needed and promote additional reductions in tobacco use.
The American Lung Association in Nebraska and coalition partners will continue to press for passage of a substantial cigarette tax increase and increased funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs in the 2019 legislative session to prevent kids from starting to smoke and to motivate adult smokers to quit. The Lung Association will also continue our work defending our state law that protects all Nebraskans from the dangers of secondhand smoke, and continue to educate legislators about the benefits to increasing the tobacco sales age to 21
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