Anti-nicotine groups including the American Cancer Society and the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, have opposed a provision in the Ohio State Operating Budget which would make Tobacco 21 a matter of state law.
The reason for the opposition, reportedly, is that the measure penalizes underaged smokers and vapers too heavily while penalizing violative retailers too lightly. Underaged smokers and vapers face seizure of the nicotine products they are caught with, as well as a fine of up to $100 and mandatory attendance of a tobacco education course.
According to Wendy Hyde of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, this is the wrong area for emphasis:
“Many youth smokers are addicted, making it difficult for them to quit, and some research suggests that penalizing youth could deter them from seeking support for cessation. Rather than treat children as the wrongdoers, youth access laws should focus on limiting access to tobacco products.”
Instead of penalizing individuals for illegal behavior — and purchasing nicotine products while underage is indeed illegal — activists such as Hyde prefer to see violative retailers penalized. One suggestion for a penalty is the revocation of violative retailers’ licenses to sell nicotine products.
This may strike some as a “half measures” approach which fails to present underaged smokers and vapers with any deterrent against continuing to acquire contraband (for them) nicotine products through “straw buyers” such as older friends or relatives.