22nd Alaska State Legislature
Information from Representative John Harris(R)



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State Capitol, Room 513
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-4859
Fax: (907) 465-3799


Sponsor Statement for HB 228
Sale of Tobacco Products

An Act relating to the offense of selling or giving tobacco to a minor, to the accounting of fees from business license endorsements for tobacco products, to the disclosure of certain confidential cigarette and tobacco product information, to notification regarding a cigarette manufacturer's noncompliance with the tobacco product Master Settlement Agreement, to business license endorsements for sale of tobacco products, to citations and penalties for illegal sales of tobacco products; and providing for an effective date.
Released: March 29, 2001
Contact: John Manly, Legislative Aide to Rep. John Harris
at (907) 465-4859

Alaska has a huge problem with the sale of tobacco products to kids. In a recent survey of tobacco retailers initiated by the Department of Health and Social Services, it was determined that nearly 2/3 of vendors in rural Alaska sold tobacco products to children, while more than 1/3 of those in urban Alaska did.

This will take a toll on these young people if they continue to use tobacco products into their adult years, in terms of unnecessary illness and early death. It also continues to place a heavy burden on health care providers whose duty it is to help those who are battling tobacco related disease. The cost to the public will continue to spiral upward. Additionally, the state is liable, under the federal Synar amendment, for a penalty of $1.5 million (to be deducted from its drug and alcohol abuse block grant) because the rate of sales to minors is above the 20 percent federal limit. If increased state enforcement effort of at least $481,687.00 is approved through the fiscal notes for this bill, the Synar penalty will be lifted.

HB 228 seeks to derail some of the ever-growing problem of tobacco sales to minors - and the consequences down the road - by beefing up enforcement of state laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors, and it does so in several areas.

First, the bill proposes fining a business that sells tobacco to minors from $1,000 on a first offense to $5,000 on a third offense. It also provides for mandatory suspensions and possible revocation of the endorsement to sell tobacco products if multiple violations take place over a two-year period. The bill also gives the Department of Health and Social Services the authority to issue citations for certain tobacco offenses.

The bill would increase revenues from tobacco vendors to pay for enforcement efforts by raising the fee for a tobacco endorsement on a business license from $25 to $100. It would also require a separate endorsement for each location at which a retailer sells tobacco products. Current law requires only one, regardless of how many locations or outlets a business has in which it sells tobacco.

In sections unrelated to the problem of tobacco sales to minors, HB 228 also adds language to allow the Department of Revenue to keep better track of compliance with the tobacco settlement.

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Related Links

House Fights Tobacco Sales to Minors

Tobacco Control: Enforcement and Effectiveness of Federal and State Youth Access Laws

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

Alaska Department of Revenue