Los Angeles retailers who sell tobacco to kids face harsher penalties

LOS ANGELES — The City Council today unanimously approved harsher penalties for retailers that sell tobacco products to minors in Los Angeles.

The proposal adopted on a 14-0 vote will impose a 30-day suspension of a retailer’s tobacco permit the first time it illegal sells tobacco products to minors. The previous law only required issuing a “letter of reprimand” to retailers for the first violation.

The second violation would result in a 90-day suspension, the third would lead to a 120-day suspension of a retailer’s tobacco permit, and if a retailer commits four violations within five years, the retailer’s permit will be revoked, under the changes adopted today.

The amendments also call for retailers to post a notice when their permits are revoked or suspended, and would prohibit retailers from advertising tobacco products during that period as well.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who authored the measure, said it “could result in preventing up to 1,200 minors per year from becoming addicted to tobacco and nicotine.”

O’Farrell cited a statistic indicating that 64 percent of adult smokers began before they were 18 years old.

O’Farrell also said that in Los Angeles, 24 percent of tobacco retailers were caught selling tobacco products to minors, compared with 7.6 percent statewide.

The stronger penalties would bring the city “into the same level of compliance and enforcement as other cities” in California, O’Farrell said.

Source: http://www.dailynews.com/

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