What’s It to Me? – Laws and Penalties
Penalties for Juvenile Tobacco Use
Strict penalties are looming for teens and children caught smoking. As of September 2001, penalties for anyone under 18 using or possessing tobacco products will include both fines and tobacco education classes. The classes must be approved by the Texas Department of Health, which has also been charged with developing a public awareness campaign to help reduce use of tobacco by Texas youth.
Forty-four states penalize minors for tobacco-related offenses. Thirty-one states prohibit minors from possessing tobacco products. Eighteen states – Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming – have language banning the use of tobacco products by minors. Twenty-five states order minors who are caught with tobacco to perform community service as well as, or in lieu of, a fine. Eight states – California, Florida, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin – may suspend the driver’s license of a minor who violates their youth access law. Thirteen states – Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Texas, Ohio, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming – may require minors to attend smoking education, cessation or similar health awareness programs in addition to or in lieu of other penalties for tobacco-related offenses.
Laws for Adults
Anyone appearing to be under 27 years of age must be asked for proof of identification. Free samples and coupons of tobacco to anyone under age 18 are prohibited.
Laws for Retailers
Tobacco retailers must inform employees that tobacco sales to minors are illegal. Tobacco product outdoor advertising is prohibited within 1,000 feet of a church or school. A tobacco retail permit fee of $125 in 1998-99 and $180 in 2000–2001, and the fees fund the administration, enforcement and awareness programs.
There are vending machines, billboard, TV and radio laws.
Federal law prohibits the advertising of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and little cigars on radio, TV, or other form of electronic media regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.
This information was taken from the American Cancer Society website and the Texas Senate Bill number 55.
Don’t be Trippin’ — Stop Your Dippin’.