By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service
LANSING—The penalties for selling or furnishing tobacco products to minors would increase if the House passes a bill approved by the Senate.
Under the bill introduced by Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, violators would face a fine of up to $100 for a first offense and up to $500 for a second offense.
Currently, the fine is only up to $50 each time.
Bieda said the main concern is people who sell or furnish tobacco products to minors repeatedly.
The bill would also require retailers to post signs warning that it’s illegal to provide tobacco to minors and that minors who illegally buy tobacco face criminal penalties.
Mike Nolan,, president of the Michigan Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, said he has no problem with the increased fines. He agreed that nobody should sell tobacco to minors, but said enforcement should be fair.
“We have to be careful when selling tobacco to young people. It’s very goofy, the kids would trick you,” Nolan said.
Nolan has a tobacco store in Traverse City and said his employees ask for ID for every purchase, but some minors use other people’s ID.
“You can’t do anything about it — the photo does look alike,” Nolan said.
The bill defines “tobacco product” as a product that contains tobacco and is intended for human consumption, including cigarettes, non-cigarette smoking tobacco, smokeless tobacco and cigars.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking has declined among U.S. youth in recent years but the use of some other tobacco products has increased.
In 2014, about 9 percent of high school students used cigarettes and 13.4 percent used electronic cigarettes.
Bieda said that although more than 95 percent of Michigan residents newly diagnosed with lung cancer are 50 years or older, it is important to restrict smoking by adolescents.
Nearly one in 15 high school seniors was a daily smoker in 2014 and almost all tobacco use begins in childhood and adolescence, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s office.
And “if smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness,” according to the CDC.
“So far there is no opposition. Maybe there would be some behind the scenes, but I didn’t seen any,” Bieda said.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill which is pending in the House Regulatory Reform Committee.
The American Cancer Society estimated that Michigan would have 8,350 new cases for lung and bronchus cancer in 2015. Only seven states have higher estimates than Michigan. Estimated new cases are based on 1995-2011 incidence rates reported by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
Lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer in both men and women in Michigan. Smoking is by far the most significant risk factor for lung cancer and causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths among men and 70 percent lung cancer deaths among women, according to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
By YUEHAN LIU