PA 07-175—sHB 7139
General Law Committee
Public Health Committee
AN ACT INCREASING PENALTIES FOR THE SALE OF CIGARETTES OR TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO MINORS
SUMMARY: This act increases the civil penalties for (1) minors who purchase cigarette or tobacco products and (2) people who sell, give, or deliver the products to them. By law, the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) commissioner assesses the penalties following a hearing.
The act also authorizes the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) commissioner to investigate allegations of noncompliance with certain notice requirements by dealers and distributors. After doing so, it allows him to refer the case to the state's attorney or impose a civil penalty.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007
PENALTIES FOR SELLING TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO MINORS
For minors (people under age 18) who purchase cigarettes or tobacco products, the act increases the maximum penalty from (1) $50 to $100 for a first violation and (2) $100 to $150 for any subsequent violation.
Dealers, Distributors, Employees, and Vending Machine Owners
The act increases the penalties for certain people who sell, give, or deliver cigarettes or tobacco products to minors, other than minors acting in their capacity as employees. They are (1) dealers and distributors; (2) their employees; and (3) owners of establishments with cigarette vending machines, whether coin-operated or restricted (see BACKGROUND).
For dealers and distributors, the act increases the penalty from (1) $250 to $300 for a first violation and (2) $500 to $750 for any subsequent violation within 18 months. By law, a third violation within that period also results in a minimum 30-day license suspension.
For employees of dealers and distributors, the act increases the penalty from (1) $100 to $200 for a first violation and (2) $150 to $250 for any subsequent violation within 18 months.
Finally, for owners of establishments with cigarette vending machines or restricted cigarette vending machines, the act increases the penalty from (1) $250 to $500 for a first violation and (2) $500 to $750 for any subsequent violation within 18 months. By law, a third violation within 18 months also results in the immediate removal of any machines and a one-year ban on their replacement.
PENALTIES FOR NONCOMPLIANCE WITH THE NOTICE REQUIREMENT
The law requires dealers and distributors to post notices where cigarettes are sold. The notices must state (1) that it is illegal to sell, give, or deliver cigarettes to minors and for minors to purchase them and (2) the penalties for noncompliance. Violators are subject to a criminal fine of up to $100.
The act authorizes the DCP commissioner to investigate allegations of noncompliance with the notice requirement. If he determines that reasonable cause exists, he may (1) refer a case to the state's attorney or (2) impose a $100 civil penalty per violation. In either case, he must provide notice to the accused. To impose a civil penalty, he must also provide an opportunity for a hearing. Each day a dealer or distributor fails to post the notice constitutes a separate violation.
The law distinguishes between two types of machines that it authorizes to dispense cigarettes. One is the traditional coin-operated vending machine. The other is the “restricted cigarette vending machine,” which (1) automatically deactivates and cannot be operated after each sale and (2) requires a face-to-face interaction or display of identification between the purchaser and employee of the business where the machine is located.
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