New study shows Nebraska ranks 26th in tobacco prevention programs
A new study shows that Nebraska ranks in the bottom half when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco. Nebraska is spending $2.6 million dollars a year on tobacco prevention programs. Tobacco companies are spending more than 20 times that, $63 million dollars in the state.
$2.6 million dollars is only a 2.5 percent of the $104 million dollars that the state made in tobacco taxes and settlements this year. The American Cancer Society says it's just not enough.
"We'll be going to the legislature in 2019," said Nick Faustman "to ask for an increase in tobacco tax. We would like to see that tobacco tax raised by $1.50, it would keep kids from getting it"
That tax would also go towards e-cigarettes. A product more than nine percent of Nebraska teens use regularly, but it is not defined as a tobacco product under Nebraska state statute.
"We would like to see those included as tobacco products," said Faustman "they often times do contain nicotine which is derived from tobacco"
Studies show in Nebraska 78 percent of high schoolers and 48 percent of middle schoolers have tried vaping at least once. Molly Kinkcaid runs No Limits Nebraska, which is a youth-led anti-smoking group in Lincoln. She says teens are being targeted.
"Certain things like the cigarillos," said Kinkcaid "they look really cool and they're 99 cents or the Juuls, they look like flash drives. They can be used really discreetly in the hallways or in the bathrooms"
Despite recent measures to shop companies from selling youth-favored flavors, she says many times teens are buying the products online.
"It's just really easy for students to be able to get their hands on them," said Kinkcaid "because a lot of the age verification on websites you just check a box"
States spent a total of $655 million dollars on tobacco prevention. That's under 20 percent of the $3.3 billion dollars the CDC recommends.