Will Nebraska be the next state to raise legal smoking (and vaping) age to 21?

Breaking news in Omaha, Nebraska is that a state senator has introduced new legislation to increase the smoking age to 21.  Hawaii was the first state to do this back on January 1, 2015, and California followed six months later.  Now Nebraska wants to join the trend.

Senator Merv Riepe introduced Bill LB73 which states that the public health risks associated with combustible tobacco products “have been scientifically proven.”  The bill also cites a “growing number of minors” are becoming addicted to smoking and at alarming younger ages.

But smoking and vaping are two entirely different things.  Why Riepe included vaping technology in the proposed age increase is not completely clear.

Says Eric Johnson of CaterPillar Vapes during an interview with KMTC News, comparing smoking to vaping is like “apples and oranges.”

“You’ve got somebody who is 18 years of age who can make decisions on their own.  When you start lumping them together it becomes imperative that you have the science to back it up and right now the science isn’t there.”

Johnson also says that many of his younger customers first turned to vaping after considering taking up smoking first.  They already knew that smoking is extremely toxic, and vaping is considered a vastly safer and healthier alternative.

Confusing smoking with vaping

As many vapers can attest, smokers often pick up the nasty habit during these early adult years when they encounter new friends at college or in the work force who happen to smoke. Another contributing factor is the new social activity of drinking alcoholic beverages, which usually begins to become a regular part of their weekly lifestyle around this same age.

When we drink, our inhibitions are lowered, and we can make bad decisions.  This is why so many of us become addicted to smoking at such a young age. According to Johnson, at least today’s generation of young people are planning ahead and looking to vaping as a healthier alternative.

“A lot of these kids either were smoking or were going to start or running down that path and they headed back this direction.”

Johnson also warns that the Nebraska Legislature needs to think long and hard before raising the legal age to buy vaping products to 21.  Young people who vape will not likely give it up just because of some silly law.  They will continue to “find a way,” and by keeping the vaping age at 18, at least they will be able to purchase safe products instead of Black Market options.

Article Credit: Matt Rowland

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