Topic:
AGE OF MAJORITY; SMOKING;
Location:
SMOKING;

OLR Research Report


March 4, 2005

 

2005-R-0269

POSSESSION OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS BY MINORS

By: Steve DiLella, Legislative Fellow

You asked for (1) states that prohibit minors from purchasing tobacco products, (2) states that prohibit minors from possessing tobacco products, and (3) the penalties for violations.

In 1991, Congress passed the Synar law, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors under the age of 18. This law also forces state governments to monitor the sale of tobacco to minors. In response to the Synar law, many state governments passed legislation that bans minors from buying or possessing tobacco.

We found 40 states that prohibit minors from purchasing tobacco products. Thirty-one states prohibit minors from possessing tobacco in all circumstances. Five states, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon, and Rhode Island, ban possessing tobacco in limited circumstances, such as in public or on school property. Only five states, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and South Carolina, have no laws concerning minors and tobacco.

Of the states that prohibit minors from buying tobacco, 31 impose fines. The fines range from $10 for the first offense to $750 for the third offense. Nine states impose only fines, while 22 states combine fines with other penalties. Four states have only non-monetary penalties. Non-monetary penalties include community service, participation in a tobacco education program, loss of driver's license, confiscation of tobacco products, and imprisonment.

Of the states that ban tobacco possession by minors, 27 impose fines. These fines range from $5 for the first offense to $750 for the third offense. States also mandate community service, a tobacco education program, loss of driver's license, and imprisonment as penalties for possessing tobacco. These penalties are used in conjunction with or in place of fines.

Table 1 lists the states, the prohibitions and the penalties.

Table 1: Penalties For Minors Possessing or Purchasing Tobacco Products

State

Prohibit Possession

Prohibit Purchase

Penalty

Alabama

Yes

Yes

$10-$50 fine for each violation (Ala. Code 28-11-13 & 28-11-14)

Alaska

Yes

No

Up to $500 fine (Alaska Stat. 17.76.105)

Arizona

Yes

Yes

Up to $300 fine (Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-3622)

Arkansas

Yes

Yes

None given (Ark. Code Ann. 5-27-227)

California

Yes

Yes

$75 fine and 30 hours of community service (Ca. Penal Code 308)

Colorado

No

Yes

$100 fine or enrollment in a tobacco education program; can also perform community service and receive a credit of $5 per hour to be paid up to 50% of fine and court costs (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. 18-13-121)

Connecticut

No

Yes

● First offense ― $50 fine

● Subsequent offenses ― $50-$100 fine (Conn. Gen. Stat. 53-344)

Delaware

No

Yes

● First offense ― $50 fine or 25 hours community service

● Subsequent offenses ― $50 fine and 50 hours of community service (Del. Code. Ann. Tit 11 1124 & 1127)

Florida

Yes

Yes

● First offense ― Attend a tobacco education program. $25 fine or 16 hours of community service

● Second Offense ― $25 fine

● Third offense ― Suspend or revoke driver's license and insurance (Fla. Stat. Ch. 569.11)

Georgia

Yes

Yes

20 hours of community service, attend a tobacco education program, or both (Ga. Code. Ann. 16-12-171)

Hawaii

No

Yes

● First offense ― $10 fine

● Subsequent offenses ― $50 fine; if minor is not employed or in school, penalty may include 48-72 hours of community service (Haw. Rev. Stat. 709-908)

Idaho

Yes

Yes

Up to six months imprisonment, up to $300 fine, or both; may require youth and parents to attend a tobacco education program (Idaho Code 39-5703)

Illinois

No

Yes

● First offense ― $200 fine

● Second offense ― $400 fine

● Third offense ― $600 fine (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 675/1 et seq.)

Indiana

Yes

Yes

Up to $500 fine (Ind. Code 35-46-1-10.5)

Iowa

Yes

Yes

● First offense ― $50 fine, 8 hours community service, or both

● Second offense ― $100 fine, 12 hours community service, or both

● Third offense ― $250 fine and 16 hours of community service (Iowa Code 453A.1 et seq. (2003) & 805.8c(3)(c))

Kansas

Yes

Yes

$25 fine (Kan. Stat. Ann. 79-3321 & 79-3322)

Kentucky

Yes

Yes

● Possession

○ Confiscate tobacco

● Purchasing

○ First offense ― $50 fine and 20 hours community service

○ Second offense ― $200 fine and 40 hours community service (Ky. Rev. Stat. 438.300, 438.50 & 438.11)

Louisiana

Yes, but not illegal in private or with parent

Yes

● Possession

○ $50 fine for each offense

● Purchasing

○ First offense ― $50 fine

○ Second offense ― $100 fine

○ Third offense ― $250 fine

○ Subsequent offenses ― $400 fine (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 14:91.8)

Maine

Yes

Yes

● First offense ― $100-$300 fine, community services, or both

● Second offense ― $200-$500 fine, community service, or both

● Third offense ― $500 fine and possible community service (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit 22 1555-b)

Maryland

Yes

No

● First offense ― Attend a tobacco education program and 20 hours community service

● Subsequent offenses ― 40 hours community service (Md. Code. Ann. Crim. Law. 10-101 & 10-108)

Massachusetts

No

No

N/A

Michigan

Yes, only on public property

No

● First offense ― Up to $50 fine, 16 hours community service, attend a tobacco education program or combination of penalties

● Second offense ― Attend a tobacco education program and 32 hours community service

● Subsequent offenses ― Attend a tobacco education program and 48 hours community service (Mich. Comp. Laws 722.642)

Minnesota

Yes

Yes

Up to $300 fine (Minn. Stat. 609.685)

Mississippi

Yes, only on school grounds

Yes

None stated (Miss. Code. Ann 97-32-13 & 97-32-29)

Missouri

Yes

Yes

● First offense ― Tobacco confiscated

● Second offense ― Attend a tobacco education program (Mo. Rev. Stat. 407.933)

Montana

Yes

Yes

● Possession

○ First offense ― $50 fine, community service, education, or combination of penalties

○ Second offense ― $75-$100 fine, community service, education, or combination of penalties

○ Third offense ― $100-$250 fine, community service, education, or combination of penalties

● Purchasing

○ First offense ― $50 fine, and possible community service

○ Second offense ― $100 fine and possible community service (Mont. Code Ann. 45-5-637)

Nebraska*

No

No

N/A

Nevada

No

No

N/A

New Hampshire

Yes

Yes

Up to $100 fine or 20 hours community service for each offense and may include a tobacco education program (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 126-K:6)

New Jersey

No

No

N/A

New Mexico

No

Yes

$100 fine or 48 hours of community service (N.M. Stat. Ann. 30-49-3 & 30-49-12 et seq.)

New York

No

No

N/A

North Carolina

No

Yes

Up to $100 fine (N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-313)

North Dakota

Yes

Yes

None stated; local jurisdictions have the option to impose a $25 fine for violations (N.D. Cent. Code 12.1-31-03)

Ohio

Yes

Yes

Attend a tobacco education program, $100 fine, or both; if disobeys program, 20 hours of community service, suspend driver's license, or both (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2151.87)

Oklahoma

Yes

Yes

● First offense ― $100 fine

● Subsequent offenses ― $200 fine

● If fine is not paid within 90 days, driver's license can be suspended

● If in possession and refuse to tell where tobacco was obtained, can face five days imprisonment or a $5 fine (Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 37 600.4 & Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21 1242)

Oregon

Yes, unless in private or with parent

Yes

● First offense ― Attend a tobacco education program or community service

● Subsequent offenses ― Attend a tobacco education program or community service and can suspend driver's license (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. 167.401)

Pennsylvania

No

Yes

Up to 75 hours of community service, attend a tobacco education program, up to $200 fine, 30 day suspension of driver's license or any combination of penalties (18 Pa. Cons. Stat 6305)

Rhode Island

Yes, only in a public place, street, or resort

Yes

● Possession

○ $5 fine

● Purchasing

○ None given (R.I. Gen. Laws 11-9-13 & 11-9-14)

South Carolina

No

No

N/A

South Dakota

Yes

Yes

Up to 30 days imprisonment or up to $200 fine (S.D. Cod. Laws. 34-46-2, 34-46-5, 34-46-6 & 26-10-20)

Tennessee

Yes

Yes

● First offense ― $10-$50 fine

● Subsequent offenses ― $10-$50 fine, 50 hours of community service, attend a tobacco education program, or combination of penalties (Tenn. Code Ann. 39-17-1505)

Texas

Yes

Yes

Up to $250 fine and attend a tobacco education program or 8-12 hours of community service; if program is not completed, driver's license can be suspended (Tex. Health Safety Code Ann. 161.252, 161.253 & 161.254)

Utah

Yes

Yes

Minimum $60 fine and attend a tobacco education program (Utah Code Ann. 76-10-105)

Vermont

Yes

Yes

● Possession

○ $25 fine, can suspend driver's license if not paid in 90 days

● Purchasing

○ None given (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit 7 1005)

Virginia

Yes

Yes

● First offense ― $100 fine or 20 hours community service

● Subsequent offenses ― $250 fine or 40 hours of community service (Va. Code. Ann 18.2-371.2)

Washington

Yes

Yes

Up to $50 fine, 4 hours of community service, attend a tobacco education program, or combination of penalties (Wash. Rev. Code 70.155.080 & 70.155.130)

West Virginia

Yes

No

● First offense ― $25 fine and 8 hours community service

● Second offense ― $50 fine and 16 hours of community service

● Subsequent offenses ― $100 and 24 hours of community service (W.Va. Code 16-9A-3)

Wisconsin

Yes

Yes

Seizure of product (Wis. Stat. 254.92)

Wyoming

Yes

Yes

● First offense ― Up to $50 fine

● Second offense ― $250 fine

● Subsequent offenses ― $750 fine

● A credit of $5 per hour is given for each hour of community service performed or each hour in a tobacco education program; credits can be applied to fine, court costs, or both (Wyo. Stat. Ann. 14-3-304 & 14-3-305)

* Nebraska has a law prohibiting use of tobacco by a minor punishable by a $100 fine. (Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-1417

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