Teenagers’ use of electronic cigarettes has tripled between 2013 and 2014 in the USA, surpassing the use of all other tobacco products, and federal officials are blaming unrestricted advertisement of the products. They are particularly concerned by the numerous studies that have found e-cigarettes to be a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes, even if the figures presented by the authors are not always relevant for such conclusion.
Senator Julie A. Morrison sponsored a measure that was presented in First Reading on January 15, 2015, prohibiting the distribution of tobacco and alternative nicotine products to persons under 18 years of age.
For minors in possession of vaping or tobacco products
As of June 1, 2016, first violation will be considered a petty offence for a minor and will be treated as a Class misdemeanor with penalties of 25 hours of community service and a fine of $50. After a first violation, for a subsequent violation within 12 months, the court may impose a fine of $75 and 50 hours of community service. The maximum penalty for the third violation within 12 months is a fine of $200 and 50 hours of community service.
In addition, attendance to a smoker’s education or a youth diversion program (if available in the jurisdiction and time-credited against community service time) may be required by the court upon recommendation by the State’s Attorney for the minor and his/her legal tutors, accompanied by a fee for attending the program. It will consist in a seminar designed to educate a person on the physical and psychological effects of smoking tobacco and alternative nicotine products and the health consequences of their use.
For the retailers and anyone selling vaping of tobacco products
The bill also recommends retailers to check photo-IDs for people that appear under 27 years of age to make sure that they are not minor before selling any tobacco product and to follow a training program that facilitates the compliance with minimum-age tobacco laws. This programs aims at informing the retailer of the procedures of age verification and of the penalties in case of violation.
Retailers selling those products to minors, whether professionals or not, will be fined on June 1, 2016, $200 for the first offense, $400 for the second offense in a 12-month period, $600 for the third offense within a 24-month period of the first violation and up to $800 for any subsequent offense.
Being a retailer in Chicago is definitely not a sinecure, after procedures imposed by the Liquid Nicotine Product Tax on the retail sale of liquid nicotine products in the City.