The Punishment on Minors who Possess and/or Purchase Tobacco Products

A large discussion lately has been "How are minors punished for possessing, purchasing, and/or using tobacco products?"


Thanks to https://twitter.com/vakayakangler for bringing this to my attention, and giving me a resource to find some information on this.


Let's look at some resources first.


1. https://www.cga.ct.gov/2005/rpt/2005-r-0269.htm This is from the Connecticut General Assembly.


2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310410/ This is the National Institute of Health.


With these two resources, let's dive into fines/punishments/other situations that could happen for a minor possessing, purchasing and using tobacco products.


ALABAMA

In Alabama, it's illegal to purchase, use, possess or transport tobacco products. There is a $10-$50 fine per violation, as well as a notifying the parents of the minor(s).


ALASKA

In Alaska, it's illegal to knowingly possess tobacco products. There is a fine that can be up to $500.


ARIZONA

In Arizona, it's illegal to purchase, possess or knowing accept tobacco products. There is a fine that can go up to $300 or community service.


ARKANSAS

Arkansas law says it's illegal to purchase, posses or attempt to purchase tobacco products. There is a confiscation of tobacco product(s), and may require community service and/or a tobacco education program.


CALIFORNIA

In California, it's illegal to purchase, possess or receive tobacco products. There is a $75 fine associated with this, as well as 30 hours of community service.


COLORADO

It's illegal to purchase or attempt to purchase tobacco products. There is a $100 fine or enrollment in a tobacco education program. The person can also perform community service for $5 an hour to pay up to 50% of the fine and court costs.


CONNECTICUT

It's illegal to purchase tobacco products in Connecticut. The first offense is a $50 fine, subsequent offenses are $50-$100.


DELAWARE

It's illegal to purchase, accept receipt and use coupon for tobacco products. First offense is a $50 fine or 25 hours of community service. Subsequent offenses are $50 fine and 50 hours of community service.


FLORIDA

In Florida, it's illegal to knowingly possess, purchase and attempt to purchase tobacco products. First offense requires either enrollment into a tobacco education program, a $25 fine or 16 hours of community service. Second offense is just a $25 fine. Third offense is a suspension or revoking of a driver's license and insurance.


GEORGIA

It's illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase or possess tobacco products in the state of Georgia. The consequence is 20 hours of community service, attending a tobacco education program, or both.


HAWAII

In Hawaii, it is illegal for a minor to purchase tobacco products. First offense is a $10 fine. Subsequent offense are a $50 fine. If the minor is not employed or in school, penalty may include 48-72 hours of community service as well.


IDAHO

It is illegal for minors to purchase, receive, sell, possess, use, distribute and consume tobacco products in the state of Idaho. The state has decided that the minor can get up to six months of imprisonment, up to a $300 fine or both. The state can also require the youth and their parents to attend a tobacco education program.


ILLINOIS

It is illegal for minors to purchase or possess tobacco products. First offense is a $200 fine. Second offense is a $400 fine. Third offense is a $600 fine.


INDIANA

It's illegal to purchase, accept for personal use or possess tobacco products. The state can fine up to $500 per violation.


IOWA

It's illegal to smoke, use, possess, purchase or attempt to purchase tobacco products in the state of Iowa. First offense is a $50 fine or 8 hours of community service or both. Second offense is a $100 fine or 12 hours of community service or both. Third offense is a $250 fine and 16 hours of community service.


KANSAS

It's illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase, possess or attempt to possess tobacco products. There is a $25 fine associated.


KENTUCKY

It is illegal to possess or use tobacco products if you are a minor in Kentucky. If you have tobacco products on you, the product is confiscated. If you purchased tobacco products, the first offense is a $50 fine and 20 hours of community service. Second offense is a $200 fine and 40 hours of community service.


LOUISIANA

It's illegal to purchase or possess tobacco products. Possession is $50 per offense. Purchasing: First offense is $50, second offense is $100, third offense is $250 and subsequent offenses is $400 in fines.


MAINE

It's illegal to present fraudulent ID for the purposes of purchasing, possessing and/or using tobacco products. First offense is a $100-$300 fine, community service, or both. Second offense is a $200-$500 fine, community service, or both. Third offense is a $500 fine and possible community service.


MARYLAND

There is nothing outlined for what is considered illegal in the state of Maryland. The state does have consequences though. First offense is a tobacco education program and 20 hours of community service. Second offense is 40 hours of community service.


MASSACHUSETTS

The state of Massachusetts does not have a definition for illegal activity nor consequences for minors using/purchasing/possessing tobacco products.


MICHIGAN

It is illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase, possess, attempt to possess, and use tobacco products if you are a minor. First offense: Up to $50 fine, 16 hours of community service, attend a tobacco education program, or a combination of penalties. Second offense: Attend a tobacco education program and serve 32 hours of community service. Third offense: Attend a tobacco education program and serve 48 hours of community service.


MINNESOTA

It is illegal to use a fraudulent ID to purchase, attempt to purchase, possess, smoke, chews, or ingest tobacco products. There is a fine that can range up to $300. If a fraudulent ID is used, the driver's license can also be suspended.


MISSISSIPPI

It's illegal to purchase tobacco products in Mississippi, but they have no consequences listed for what happens if caught.


MISSOURI

It's illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase or possess tobacco products. First offense, the tobacco product(s) is confiscated. Second offense, the minor has to attend a tobacco education program.


MONTANA

It's illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase or possess tobacco products in the state of Montana. For possession: First offense is a $50 fine, community service, education or combination of penalties. Second offense is a $75-$100 fine, community service, education or combination of penalties. Third offense is a $100-$250 fine, community service, education or combination of penalties. For purchasing: First offense is a $50 fine and possible community service. Second offense is a $100 fine and possible community service.


NEBRASKA

It's illegal to use, but there is nothing available for punishment.


NEVADA

Nothing is listed here. Nothing illegal. No consequences. Nothing.


NEW HAMPSHIRE

It's illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase, use or possess tobacco products. There is a fine that can be charged up to $100 or 20 hours of community service per offense, and it may include a tobacco education program.


NEW JERSEY

Nothing illegal. No consequences. Nothing at all.


NEW MEXICO

It's illegal to procure or attempt to procure tobacco products. There is a $100 fine or 48 hours of community service.


NEW YORK

Another state that has crickets. Nothing listed as illegal. No consequences.


NORTH CAROLINA

It's illegal to purchase, accept, receipt, attempt to purchase or accept receipt for tobacco products. $100 fine per violation.


NORTH DAKOTA

It's illegal to purchase, possess, smoke or use tobacco products. Local jurisdictions have the option to impose a $25 fine, but there is nothing on the state level.


OHIO

It's illegal to consume, possess, purchase, and attempt to purchase. First offense is attend a tobacco education program, $100 fine or both. If person disobeys the tobacco education program, then 20 hours of community service or a suspension of driver's license, or both can happen.


OKLAHOMA

It's illegal to purchase, receive and possess tobacco products in Oklahoma. First offense is a $100 fine, subsequent offenses are a $200 fine. If the fine isn't paid within 90 days, the driver's license can be suspended. If in possession of tobacco products and refuses to tell where the tobacco was obtained, the person can face up to five days imprisonment or a $5 fine.


OREGON

It is illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase or acquire tobacco products. First offense is a tobacco education program or community service. Subsequent offenses are also a tobacco education program and community service, but can suspend driver's license.


PENNSYLVANIA

It is illegal to purchase or attempt to purchase tobacco products in the state of Pennsylvania. The consequences include: up to 75 hours of community service, up to a $200 fine, attend a tobacco education program, or a 30 day suspension of driver's license, or a combination of penalties.


RHODE ISLAND

It is illegal to purchase. If found in possession, there is a $5 fine. There are no consequences for purchasing.


SOUTH CAROLINA

It is illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase, possess and attempt to possess in South Carolina. There are no consequences laid out.


SOUTH DAKOTA

It is illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase, receive, attempt to receive, possess or consume tobacco products in South Dakota. If caught with any of this, person can be put into prison for up to 30 days or be fined up to $200.


TENNESSEE

It is illegal to purchase, possess or accept tobacco products. First offense is a $10-$50 fine. Subsequent offenses are a $10-$50 fine, 50 hours of community service, attend a tobacco education program or a combination of penalties.


TEXAS

It is illegal to possess, purchase, consume and accept tobacco products. There is a fine that can be up to $250 and attend a tobacco education program or 8-12 hours of community service. If the program is not completed, driver's license can be suspended.


UTAH

It is illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase and possess tobacco products. There is a minimum $60 fine and attend a tobacco education program.


VERMONT

It is illegal to possess, purchase and attempt to purchase tobacco products. Possession has a $25 fine. If it isn't paid within 90 days, driver's license can be suspended. No penalty for purchasing or attempting to purchase.


VIRGINIA

It is illegal to purchase, attempt to purchase, and possess. First offense is a $100 fine or 20 hours of community service. Subsequent offenses are a $250 fine or 40 hours of community service.


WASHINGTON

It is illegal to purchase, possess, attempt to purchase or obtain tobacco products. Up to a $50 fine, 4 hours community service, attend a tobacco education program or a combination of penalties.


WEST VIRGINIA

It is illegal to possess tobacco products. First offense is a $25 fine and 8 hours of community service. Second offense is a $50 fine and 16 hours of community service. Subsequent offenses are a $100 fine and 24 hours of community service.


WISCONSIN

It is illegal to possess and purchase tobacco products in Wisconsin. Seizure of product is the only consequence.


WYOMING

Illegal to possess, use, purchase and attempt to purchase. First offense is up to a $50 fine. Second offense is a $250 fine. Subsequent offenses are a $750 fine. A credit of $5 per hour is given for each hours of community service performed or each hour in a tobacco education program; credits can be applied to fine, court costs, or both.


Let's look at the ages for each state.


The current federal minimum age is 18.


Where the age is still 18: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania (set to increase to age 21 on July 1st, 2020), Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington (set to increase to 21 on January 1st, 2020), West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.


Where the age is 19: Alabama, Alaska, Utah (set to increase to 20 on July 1st, 2020 then set to increase to 21 on July 1st, 2021)


Where the age is 21: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia.


As you can see, the majority of states are still following the federal minimum age of 18 and older, while some states are either already transitioned or planning to transition to the age of 21 within the next two years.


Let's look into these tobacco education programs. Most of the states have a "attend a tobacco education program" as a consequence for either purchasing, attempting to purchase, possessing, attempting to possess or using tobacco products.


The Center of Disease Control (CDC) has released some guidelines for tobacco education programs. This goes into state and community interventions, mass-reach health communication interventions, cessation interventions, surveillance and evaluation, and infrastructure, administration and management. With these areas covered, they believe that smoking rates would decrease.


A local hospital has a "Why Should I Quit" page. This hospital also hosts tobacco education programs for minors who are caught using tobacco products. Here is some of the information they go over.


1. You Can Quit Smoking. Nicotine is a powerful addiction. Quitting is hard, but don't give up. Many people try two or three times before they quit for good. Each time you try to quit, the more likely you will be to succeed.


2. Good Reasons for Quitting. You will live longer and live healthier. The people you live with, especially your children, will be healthier. You will have more energy and breathe easier. You will lower your risk of a heart attack, stroke or cancer.


3. Tips to Help You Quit: Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car or workplace. Ask your family, friends and coworkers for support. Stay in nonsmoking areas. Breathe in deeply when you feel the urge to smoke. Be prepared with substitutes for trigger situations--stock up on gum, mints or hard candies. Keep yourself busy. Reward yourself often.


4. Quit and Save Yourself Money: At $6.80 per pack, if you smoke one pack per day, you will save $2,482 each year. What else could you do with this money?


5. Keys to Quitting: Get ready, line up a support system, learn new behaviors, get medication and be prepared for relapse.


6. Helpful Medications: Nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray, Wellbutrin.


This information is absolutely not helpful for someone who is trying to quit smoking, as most of us know. We've TRIED to quit smoking before, and know that vaping has been the only thing that's been able to help 13 million people quit successfully.


Where are the harsher punishments for kids doing illegal things? Adults are doing the responsible thing--being adults and purchasing tobacco products. There are harsh punishments for alcohol, usually suspension of a license, a charge of some sort, a D.U.I., not a slap on the wrist or community service or a measly $25 fine.


That's the data folks! Until next time....



~Mik


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