Effective January 1, 2020, electronic cigarette use is prohibited in all places of employment and indoor public places in Lincoln. The ordinance change follows a unanimous vote on December 16 by the City Council to include vapor products in Chapter 8.50 of the Lincoln Municipal Code.
Violation of the Lincoln Smoking Regulation Act is a misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $500 and court costs for third and subsequent offenses. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and the Lincoln Police Department will not immediately issue citations for violations of the ordinance. For the first few months of 2020, the Health Department will respond to all complaints of alleged electronic cigarette violations by providing education materials.
"This is a positive step to improving the health and well-being of Lincoln," said Health Director Pat Lopez. "These policy changes represent an important part of the evidence-based efforts of the Health Department to reduce use and exposure to tobacco and electronic cigarettes."
The Council also amended Chapter 9.28 of the Lincoln Municipal Code to be congruent with a state law that changed from 18 to 19 years old the age to legally purchase tobacco products, e-cigarette and vapor products. This ordinance change also goes into effect on January 1.
Despite federal legislation passed in December to raise the minimum age to 21 years for purchase of tobacco and vaping products, City officials are delaying a corresponding change to provide time for the State of Nebraska to amend state law.
"Until such time as an ordinance change occurs, local compliance checks conducted by the Health Department and our local law enforcement partners will be using age 19 to determine compliance with state law and the City's ordinance," Lopez said.
The Health Department reminds residents that nicotine is an addictive chemical found in tobacco and most vapor products. The Nebraska Quitline offers 24/7 access to free and confidential counseling and support services by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW.
For resources such as "no smoking/no electronic cigarettes" signs and more information on the revised ordinance, call 402-441-8045 or visit lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: tobacco).