Bill would crack down on selling tobacco to minors

Published 11:05 am Friday, December 18, 2015

LANSING — Sen. John Proos recently supported bipartisan Senate legislation to deter people from selling tobacco to minors by increasing the fine and punishing repeat offenders.

“Tobacco use in our children is unsafe in any form, yet nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking before they turned 18,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The terrible impact of smoking or using tobacco is deadly clear. The best way to protect our children from being harmed by tobacco products is to keep them out of their hands.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence. Each day in the U.S., more than 3,800 children age 18 or younger smoke their first cigarette and an additional 2,100 youth and young adults become daily smokers.

“Since the current rate of youth smoking will result in nearly 6 million of today’s children dying early from a smoking-related illness, I supported recent legislation to crack down on people who provide tobacco to minors and for minors who use tobacco,” Proos said. “A winning strategy to reduce teenage smoking should include stronger and more effective penalties. The current maximum fine has not been changed for more than 20 years and is failing to stop kids from using tobacco.”

Senate Bill 340 would increase the fine from $50 to $100 for the misdemeanor offense of selling, giving or furnishing a tobacco product to a minor. The bill also adds a fine of up to $500 for subsequent violations.

The bill would apply the same increase in fines for minors who buy, possess or attempt to purchase tobacco products.

SB 340 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.