A Nebraska state senator has introduced a bill that would make the sale of tobacco products to persons under 21-years-age illegal, as well as their possession or use.

On Thursday, State Sen. Merv Riepe (R-12) introduced Legislative Bill 73, which would not only raise the state’s minimum age to purchase tobacco and nicotine delivery products from 18 to 21-years-old, but also make it a crime for a person under 21 to possess or use such products. The bill seeks to make the latter a Class V misdemeanor, unless the person charged with the crime furnishes evidence for the conviction of the person or persons that sold or gave them said products.

In Nebraska, a Class V misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum of a $100 fine.

A person who provides tobacco products, vapor devices or alternative nicotine delivery products to a minor–whether by sale or other means–would face a Class III misdemeanor, which comes with a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment and/or a $500 fine.

Reipe is a retired hospital administrator who was elected chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee during Wednesday’s opening day of the legislative session.

Only two states have increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, Hawaii and California, while in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah the minimum age is 19-years-old, though a number of cities and counties have increased the minimum age on their own.

The bill has not yet been referred to a committee.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.