New state laws take effect Thursday

Thursday, July 1st 2004, 5:38 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma children may soon find it more difficult to buy tobacco products. A new state law took effect Thursday.

It bans self-service displays of tobacco products in stores and restricts vending machine sales to adults-only establishments. Sponsors of the law say it should cut down on sales to minors and prevent shoplifting by teenagers.

Under the law, store owners with three offenses within a two-year span could have their license suspended.

A law protecting doctors, hospitals and businesses against frivolous lawsuits also took effect on Thursday. The lawsuit reform bill was passed by the Legislature earlier this year in an effort to address rising medical malpractice insurance rates.

The law includes a $300,000 cap on so-called "pain and suffering damages" except when a judge or jury determines there is clear and convincing evidence of negligence.

The bill also expands the definition of frivolous lawsuits.