Gov. announces plans to ban sale of e-cigs to minors, tighten anti-smoking laws

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced in a press release the introduction of legislation to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and strengthen Connecticut’s anti-smoking laws. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are currently not regulated in the State of Connecticut.

 “Connecticut should join the 27 states that have already prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes and other related devices to minors to continue our progress towards achieving long-term reductions in tobacco use and tobacco-related illnesses,” Malloy said in a news release. “More than 75 percent of young people who have tried e-cigarettes also report smoking conventional cigarettes. This legislation will strengthen our prevention efforts and help reduce tobacco use among young people.”

The Governor’s Senate Bill No. 24, An Act Concerning the Governor’s Recommendations Regarding Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Youth Smoking Prevention, enhances the state’s anti-smoking laws by:

 Banning the sale of e-cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems, and other vapor products to minors under the age of 18.

 Reducing the Tobacco Retailer Violation Rate – The bill seeks to reduce the rate of violations by implementing a “best practices” on-line tobacco prevention education program for first-time offenders and increases the time period in which a higher penalty can be assessed for repeat violations from 18 to 24 months.

 In Connecticut, there are more than 4,000 licensed tobacco retailers that are subject to routine inspections through the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Tobacco Prevention and Enforcement Program.

 Cracking Down on the Sale of “Loose Cigarettes” – This legislation will increase the capacity for local law enforcement to issue fines to sellers of loose cigarettes, which will reduce access to cheaper and more accessible tobacco products by minors.

 A three-tiered fine structure will be implemented as follows: not more than $200 for the first violation, not more than $350 for the second violation within 24 months of the first offense, and not more than $500 for any subsequent violation within twenty-four months of the first offense. 

 Investing in Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Efforts – The proposal removes a moratorium on the activities of the Board of Trustees of the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund (THTF) during FY 2016 and increases the maximum amount that the Board may recommend to be disbursed.

The Tobacco and Health Trust Fund is a separate non-lapsing fund that receives deposits from the Tobacco Settlement Fund.  Since the Board’s establishment in 2000, recommended disbursements have totaled $21.5 million. 

The legislation cleared its first legislative hurdle on Tuesday, the release said, when it was approved in a unanimous vote by the General Assembly’s Committee on Children.

“The governor’s legislation is another step toward ensuring our children and young people have a healthy and bright future,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman.  “Just as we are making historic investments in education and leading the nation in expanding healthcare, this bill further protects Connecticut’s children and our young people, and will reduce smoking-related healthcare costs across the state.”

 Governor Malloy announced his bill Wednesday at the Trinity College Boys & Girls Club, which boasts a tobacco resistance and awareness program for club members ages 13 to 15 funded by the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund.  Governor Malloy is proposing to increase the amount of funding available under the trust fund so that similar programs may be funded in the future,

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