Penalty-for-purchase legislation

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Penalty-for-purchase legislation punishes underage purchasers of tobacco products rather than the clerks who sell the products, or the owners of the stores that engage in the practice. Penalty-for-purchase legislation is thought to take the focus off how the tobacco industry markets smoking in ways that appeal to youth.

A Tobacco Institute document shows that the tobacco industry supports criminalizing children for purchasing tobacco products, and that the industry back legislation that would punish children for illegal tobacco sales.

Proactive Proposal for Minor - Minnesota

Relevant quotes


During a conference call with TI and industry lobbyists and government affairs personnel on 9/20/90, there was agreement that the industry should assist MN retail community in their efforts to get penalty for purchase legislation enacted.

During the past year, the Americans for Non-Smokers Rights and several police departments from small towns have conducted sting operations. During these operations, under-age youths are sent to vending machines and retail locations to buy cigarettes. In one instance, a clerk at a convenience store who was working for near minimum wage and trying to support three children was charged with a gross misdemeanor for selling to a person 16 years old. A Gross misdemeanor in MN could result in a find of up to $3,000 and a one year maximum jail sentence. The retail communicty is distressed that these sting operations are taking place, and the absence of a penalty on youth who purchase cigarettes makes them angrier still.

Last year, an amendment was prepared to be inserted on the floor to correct this disparity in the MN law. However, the appropriate legislative moment did not arise. Without a doubt, the retail community will be intent on trying again this year. The industry reps in Region IV are supportive of this move for two reasons. First, it is felt that youths under 18 do understand that they should not purchase cigarettes and should be punished if they do. Second, our retail allies see this as a priority. Therefore, so do we...

It is arguable that legislation like this fits within the context of the industry's youth program.

Title Proactive Proposal for Minor - Minnesota
Date 19910000
Type Report
Bates TIOR0019624/9625
Collection Tobacco Institute
Pages 2

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