City and County law enforcement and health officials today reported that illegal sales of vapor products (electronic cigarettes) to minors in 2017 surpassed the rate of illegal sales of tobacco products to minors. Seven of the 33 attempts by minors to purchase vapor products during compliance checks were violations, a 21-percent non-compliance rate for the year. Only 16 of 269 attempts to purchase tobacco products were violations, a six-percent non-compliance rate.
"While we are pleased with the reduction of tobacco sales to minors, we are concerned about the level of vapor products being sold illegally to minors," said Captain Joy Citta of the Lincoln Police Department (LPD).
"It's great to see a decrease in tobacco sales to minors, however vapor product retailers need to do a better job not selling these products to anyone under the age of 18," said Sgt. Mike Peschong of the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office (LSO).
Local law enforcement officials began conducting vapor product compliance checks in addition to tobacco compliance checks in 2017. The compliance checks use youth volunteers in a cooperative effort conducted by LPD, LSO and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD).
The three agencies are among 20 community members of the Tobacco Free Lancaster County Coalition. The coalition's priorities are to keep youth from starting to use tobacco, reduce access to tobacco products and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. Funding is provided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services/Tobacco Free Nebraska Program as a result of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
One location, Generation V at 5540 South Street, had more than one sale of tobacco or vapor product to a minor during 2017. The following locations had one sale of tobacco or vapor product to a minor last year:
For more information on LLCHD's tobacco prevention efforts and youth tobacco use rates, visit lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: tobacco).