OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5384

AN ACT RAISING THE LEGAL AGE FOR PURCHASE AND USE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS.

SUMMARY

This bill raises, from 18 to 21, the legal age to purchase or possess in public cigarettes and other tobacco products, electronic nicotine delivery systems (e.g., electronic cigarettes), and vapor products. It makes corresponding changes to the laws regarding the sale, delivery, or giving of such products to individuals under the legal age (e.g., updating the age on the required sign that cigarette dealers and distributors must post at the point of sale ( 1)).

The bill extends some of the existing penalties for purchases by minors (i.e., under age 18), or sales to minors, to purchases by or sales to individuals ages 18 to 20. But it does not extend certain penalties that the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) may impose under existing law for tobacco purchases and sales involving minors.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

PENALTIES FOR PURCHASE OR POSSESSION

Under current law and the bill, a person under the legal age who (1) buys tobacco products, electronic nicotine delivery systems, or vapor products; (2) misrepresents his or her age to do so; or (3) possesses one in public, faces a fine of up to $50 for a first offense and between $50 and $100 for each subsequent offense ( 3(c) and 4(c)). Violators may pay the fine by mail, without making a court appearance (CGS 51-164n).

Under existing law, the DRS commissioner, after a hearing, may also impose civil penalties on minors who purchase tobacco products (CGS 12-295a(a)). The bill does not extend these penalties to individuals ages 18 to 20 who purchase tobacco products.

PENALTIES FOR SALES

Under current law and the bill, anyone who sells, gives, or delivers tobacco products, electronic nicotine delivery systems, or vapor products to someone under the legal age is subject to a maximum fine of:

1. $200 for a first offense,

2. $350 for a second offense committed within 18 months of the first offense, and

3. $500 for each subsequent offense committed within 18 months.

As under current law, (1) this penalty does not apply to someone who sells, gives, or delivers such a product to, or receives one from, someone under the legal age who receives or delivers it as an employee ( 3(b) and 4(b)); and (2) the bill allows the DRS commissioner to suspend or revoke the license of a dealer or distributer who illegally sells or delivers tobacco products to individuals under the legal age ( 2).

Existing law also allows the DRS commissioner, after a hearing, to impose penalties on cigarette dealers, distributors, or their employees, or owners of businesses with cigarette vending machines, for sales to minors (CGS 12-295a). The bill does not extend these provisions to sales to individuals ages 18 to 20.

BACKGROUND

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Vapor Products

By law, an “electronic nicotine delivery system” is an electronic device used to simulate smoking in delivering nicotine or another substance to a person who inhales from it. Delivery systems include electronic (1) cigarettes; (2) cigars; (3) cigarillos; (4) pipes; and (5) hookahs. They also include related devices, cartridges, liquid, or other components.

A “vapor product” uses a heating element; power source; electronic circuit; or other electronic, chemical, or mechanical means, regardless of shape or size, to produce a vapor the user inhales. The vapor may or may not include nicotine (CGS 53-344b(a)).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

19

Nay

7

(03/06/2017)