By Marcela Carvajal *
Recently, Nebraska legislators passed a bill (LB840) to include the use of electronic devices in the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA), which was signed by Governor Pete Ricketts and will become effective on November 14, 2020.
This measure highlights policymakers’ interest in preserving public health, making indoor public establishments and other places included in the law more enjoyable for all.
It is important to remember that smoking is not limited only to conventional cigarettes. There are also electronic devices that include a wide variety of substances, contain attractive colors and smells, and the most importantly, they contain nicotine, making these products addictive and harmful to health.
Additionally, because exposure to smoke or aerosol from cigarettes and electronic devices is not only limited to the smoker, but the non-smoking population is also exposed to secondhand smoke and secondhand aerosol.
By implementing the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act in 2008, Nebraska made tremendous progress in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, especially for non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke.
However, at that time, no one had foreseen that the tobacco industry would offer a variety of electronic products, generating a worldwide epidemic of e-cigarettes, where young people have been the most affected. We welcome the recent addition to the law, in which the use of any electronic smoking device will not be allowed inside public places in Nebraska.
This step taken in Nebraska aims not only to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke or secondhand aerosol, but it is also expected to prevent young people from starting to use tobacco.
The expansion to the NCIAA also can help more people who currently smoke or use electronic smoking devices to get motivated and take the initiative to quit. Studies have shown that implementing policies that promote smoke-free spaces can help reduce tobacco use and the chances that young people will start.
We hope that these positive changes, promoted by public health entities and approved by our elected officials, encourage all to adopt measures beyond just those established by the law that can benefit us all. For example, an additional change that could be made includes expanding smoke-free rules and clean air spaces to include patios and entrances.
The Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) is available to provide advice to owners of public places, businesses, administrators, as well as their customers, on how to implement these types of initiatives that contribute to the well-being of our community.
You can contact MOTAC through its website www.MOTAC.org, visit us on our social media on Facebook and Twitter @MOTAC, or call 402-559 3670 for more information.
*Marcela Carvajal is MPH and Outreach Project Specialist of University of Nebraska Medical Center, also she collaborates with El Perico on scientist articles.