Nebraska retailers and residents hazy on tobacco age

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SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (KCAU) – Tobacco Hut Cashier, Stephanie Chavez says, “People think it’s stupid, they’re annoyed with it.”

According to Chavez, a lot of people purchasing tobacco are unaware of the new age restrictions on those products until after they walk in the door.

Chavez says, “I found that a lot of young people don’t know about it until they come here and read the sign. And then they’re like, seriously…? Yeah… Sorry.”

But the change has been hazy for more than just the customers.

“It’s been confusing because we get people in here and they say it’s 19. That’s the Nebraska law, but the federal law says 21. So, what do you follow,” askes Chavez?

Nebraska retailers say the new laws have caught them off guard as well.

Chavez says, “Boom! I literally came into work one day and it was like oh so we’re enforcing this? This is happening? Nobody knew!”

Not sure whether to follow the state or federal law, many retailers are choosing to play it safe.

Chavez says, “So we’ve been following the 21 law, which doesn’t make people happy.”

The issue drawing in mixed emotions.

Some frustrated, like Brain Brown who says, “As far as what they do with their health I feel like that should be up to them, not the government.”

Others supportive like, George Davis who says, “I think it’s a good thing because the older you are to buy cigarettes, the least likely it is for people to start smoking cigarettes.”

“I wouldn’t want kids to come in here and potentially ruin their future,” says Drake Barclay.

With both sides unsure of how effective the new laws will actually be.

Davis says, “They’re not going to stop, They’re going to find people who are 21 to buy them cigarettes.”

“I’m sure a lot of them have older friends. 18 to 21 isn’t that big a difference,” says Barclay.

Brown says, “I don’t think it’s going to hamper people that are 18 or 19 from smoking. They’ll still find a way to get it. I think really it’s just affecting the small businesses.”

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