On December 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed a bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to raise the minimum age to purchase and use tobacco products to 21 on the federal level.
As of the first of January, the legal age to purchase tobacco within Nebraska was raised to 19. The difference in the federal law and the state law has caused confusion among citizens as well as businesses.
The legal age for the state of Nebraska is only up to 19 at this time. That being said, many businesses are following the federal law in place of the state law, especially in Crete.
Senior Paige Patton, who works part-time at Walmart in Fairbury, said that the company requires customers to be 21 or older to purchase tobacco products. Dollar General as a whole is also following the federal law in place of state law.
Junior Skylar Shottenkirk, who works part-time at the Casey’s General Store in Crete, said that employees have been instructed to only sell tobacco products to customers 21 or older.
Additionally, the Stop and Shop located in Crete will not sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. Many franchise businesses have decided to follow the federal age throughout all states rather than the individual state laws.
According to the Truth Initiative, 15.4 percent of adults over the age of 18 in Nebraska reported having smoked cigarettes, whereas 17.1 percent of adults in the U.S. reported smoking cigarettes as of 2017.
Over 9 percent of high school students in Nebraska were reported to have used e-cigarettes or vapes in 2017. Only 3 percent of adults within Nebraska, though, had used e-cigarette devices in the same year.
Fischer’s Wine & Spirits on Hawthorne Ave is the only place in Crete to purchase tobacco under the age of 21. An on-duty clerk said, “We are requiring 19 or older to purchase tobacco until we are instructed to follow the federal law.”
The local liquor store, which sells a variety of tobacco products, has new signs to indicate that they require customers to be at least 19 years of age or older to purchase.