Newsroom > DHHS News Release

November 16, 2009

Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287


Rate of Tobacco Sales to Minors Rises in Nebraska

Note: A sound bite from Scot Adams is available at:

Lincoln - Each year the rate of tobacco sales to under-aged youth is tested through a collaboration between the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Nebraska State Patrol and the City of Omaha Police Department.

“We encourage merchants to review their procedures to stop tobacco sales to minors, and to have their employees always ask for identification from those wanting to buy tobacco products,” said Scot Adams, Ph.D., director of the DHHS Division of Behavioral Health. “IDs should be carefully reviewed, because it’s illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under 18.”

Nebraska’s buy rate has been edging up since 2005, when the rate was 10.7 percent. In 2009, cooperating teens attempted buys in 767 locations and made purchases in 104, for a statewide rate of 13.6 percent.

Law enforcement teams with underage cooperating individuals who use their own identification and attempt to buy tobacco products from a randomly selected list of merchants from across the state. The cooperating individuals make no attempt to look over the legal purchase age and range in ages from 15 to 17.

“Using tobacco products can become a life-long habit for many people,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer for DHHS. “It leads to many health problems and is the single biggest cause of preventable death.”

Drs. Schaefer and Adams encourage parents to talk to their children about tobacco use and to encourage a tobacco-free life.

For information on quitting tobacco and keeping youth from starting, visit the Tobacco Free Nebraska Website at:

For information about the under-age tobacco sale inspections, visit the Division of Behavioral Health Website at: On the site you’ll find a listing of Nebraska retailers who sold tobacco to minors.