Arizona Eyes Increased Penalties for Minors Buying Tobacco

PHOENIX -- A bill that would increase the penalties for minors who use fake IDs to buy tobacco products is making its way through Arizona state legislature.

The legislation, which was sponsored by Sen. Michele Reagan (R-Scottsdale), would raise the penalty upon conviction to a maximum fine of $500 and up to 30 days in jail. The move would bring the penalty on par with clerks caught selling the tobacco products, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.

By a 6-to-1 vote, the state Senate Committee on Commerce and Energy gave the bill a thumbs-up on Feb. 2. The bill will now makes its way to the floor by way of the Rules Committee, the newspaper reported.

The bill was held in committee last week after lobbyists for the tobacco industry objected to language that would outlaw the manufacture and sale of blunt wraps -- cigar wrapping paper that is sometimes used to roll marijuana cigarettes. That provision was ultimately dropped from the bill, the news outlet reported.

The legislation has the support of the retail community. Michelle Ahlmer, executive director of the Arizona Retailers Association, said increasing the penalty for minors would "even the playing field" and deter youths from purchasing tobacco illegally. However, the American Lung Association of Arizona has expressed opposition to the bill. Christian Stumpf, regional director of advocacy, said punishment has not been as effective in reducing smoking in minors, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.

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