Bill to tighten tobacco sales to minors passed

Thursday, May 22nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A bill tightening regulation of tobacco sales to minors passed the Oklahoma Senate without dissent Wednesday after its sponsor warned the state stood to lose $7 million if it did not act.

Senate Bill 297, by Sen. Dick Wilkerson, D-Atwood, is designed to bring Oklahoma in compliance with the federal ``Synar Amendment,'' which requires states to have a compliance rate of at least 80 percent with laws banning sales of tobacco products to minors.

The federal law was named after Mike Synar, the late former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma.

Wilkerson said passage of his bill is needed or Oklahoma could lose $7 million the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse receives from the federal government.

Among other things, the bill, which passed by a 44-0 vote, increases the length of times a store's license can be suspended for repeated violations of the ban against the sale of tobacco to minors.

Without the license, the store cannot legally sell tobacco.

It also provides for payment of a $200 fine to the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission each time a vendor allows public access to tobacco products without assistance from a store employee.