OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 270 (File 239, as amended by Senate “A”)*

AN ACT CONCERNING CONSUMER PROTECTION.

SUMMARY:

This bill prohibits anyone from selling a smoking device to a minor. A smoking device is any item intended for use or designed for smoking tobacco or herbal products, including metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, ceramic, electric or air-driven pipes; water pipes; carburetion tubes and devices; smoking and carburetion masks; roach clips; rolling papers; chillums; bongs; ice pipes; or chillers.

Under the bill, violators are fined up to $ 200 for a first offense, up to $ 350 for a second offense within an 18-month period, and up to $ 500 for each subsequent offense within an 18-month period. Violators are subject to the procedures the law prescribes for infractions and for which payment is mailed to the Centralized Infractions Bureau (CIB).

For someone who pleads not guilty, the bill provides an affirmative defense for violations and determination procedures for the trier of fact. All smoking devices that are held as evidence in a prosecution under this bill must be destroyed upon the case's final disposition.

*Senate Amendment “A” (1) eliminates the original file's requirement for Department of Consumer Protection regulations, (2) adds the affirmative defense and disposal provisions, (3) lowers penalties, and (4) changes the effective date from upon passage to October 1, 2012.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2012

AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE

Under the bill, defendants have an affirmative defense for violating this sales ban. Sellers may not be found guilty of selling to a minor (anyone under age 18) if the (1) person attempting to purchase the smoking device presented a driver's license or identity card; (2) transaction scan of the card indicated it was valid; and (3) smoking device was sold to the person in reasonable reliance on the identification presented and the completed transaction scan.

In determining whether the defendant has proven the affirmative defense, the trier of fact must consider that the reasonable reliance on the presented identification and use of a scan may require the seller to use reasonable diligence and does not excuse him or her from exercising reasonable diligence in determining (1) if the customer is age 18 or older and (2) whether the description and picture on the license or identification card are those of the customer.

BACKGROUND

Centralized Infractions Bureau (CIB)

By law, an individual charged with specified violations may pay the fine through the CIB. Payment is considered a plea of nolo contendere and is inadmissible in any civil or criminal proceeding. If an individual elects to plead not guilty, the CIB must send the plea and request for trial to the clerk of the geographical area court where the trial is to take place. The practice, procedures, rules of evidence, and burden of proof applicable in criminal proceedings apply in such trials (CGS 51-164n).

COMMITTEE ACTION

General Law Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

17

Nay

1

(03/20/2012)

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

23

Nay

0

(04/18/2012)

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

41

Nay

0

(05/01/2012)