Students are prohibited from possessing or using tobacco products or paraphernalia (including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff, or chewing tobacco) on school premises or at school-related functions.
Effective September 1, 1997, Senate Bill No. 55 was passed into legislation in an effort to curb tobacco used by minors. The law deals with measures which address prevention efforts, tobacco retailers, possession of tobacco by minors and machine restrictions. The bill became effective on September 1, 1997. However, the new offense prohibiting persons under the age of 18 to possess tobacco products is effective on January 1, 1998. The new legislation covers the purchase, possession, consumption, or receipt of cigarettes or tobacco products by minors under 18 years of age. Legislation also sets out the following punishments:
- Punishable by fine not to exceed $250.00 dollars.
- Required to attend a tobacco awareness program, or
- If the defendant lives in rural area where a tobacco awareness program is not available the court shall require the defendant to perform eight to twelve hours of tobacco-related community service.
- Proof of completion of a tobacco awareness program or tobacco-related community service must be presented to the Court within 90 days. If not the defendant's driver license will be suspended for a period not to exceed 180 days.
The court may require the parent or guardian of the defendant to attend the tobacco awareness program with the defendant.
COMPLIANCE BY MERCHANTS/EMPLOYEES
Merchants and their employees must comply with the Texas Tobacco Law enacted September 1, 1997. Failure to do so can and will result in hefty penalties for both the employee and / or the merchant. The new law sets forth the following provisions:
- Prohibits retailers and their employees from selling or providing tobacco products, or giving coupons for tobacco purchases to any person under the age of 18.
- Prohibits distribution of free samples of tobacco products to any person under the age of 18.
- Prohibits the sale of cigarettes in individual packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes.
- Requires retailers and their employees to request identification from all customers under the age of 27 who try to buy cigarettes or tobacco products.
- Makes retailers responsible for the training and supervision of employees regarding the new tobacco laws.
- Allows retailers to be fined up to $1,000 per occurrence and / or have their permit revoked or suspended for selling tobacco products to any person under 27 years of age without valid identification.
- Subjects employees to criminal prosecution for a Class C Misdemeanor if they knowingly sell tobacco products to minors.
- Requires retailers to notify employees of the consequences of violating the tobacco law within 72 hours of when the employee begins selling tobacco products. Retailers must also retain a form signed by the employee as proof that the notice was given. In addition to the employee's name, current address, social security number, and signature date, the form must include a statement that the law has been fully explained, that the individual understands the law, and that the individual agrees to comply with the law.
- Requires retailers to retain the signed employee notification form for 60 days after the individual leaves employment. Retailers must present the form to law enforcement officers and / or state officials on demand.
- Requires retailers to conspicuously display a sign warning employees and customers about the tobacco law and the penalties for violations of the law.
- Subjects Retailers to random inspection by local law enforcement and state officials to ensure compliance with the tobacco law.
- Prohibits the placement of tobacco vending machines in any business that is accessible to minors.
- Prohibits the advertisement of cigarettes or tobacco products within 1,000 feet of a school or church.