Senate Bill to Punish Teen Smoking - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Senate Bill to Punish Teen Smoking

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Every day thousands of teens try smoking for the first time. Of those, about a quarter will make it a daily habit, according to the American Lung Association.

To try to curb the trend, some Nevada lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would make underage smoking a punishable offense.

Senate Bill 177 aims to close the loophole in Nevada law that bans minors from buying tobacco products, but doesn't stop them from being in possession or smoking them.

"We all know that there are 'smokers' corners' across from every high school around the state of Nevada, or even middle schools, sadly, now," District 17 Senator James Settelmeyer said. "This would allow the officers to go in and cite problem children and try to get them some help."

SB177 would allow law enforcement to ticket minors for smoking kind of like a traffic violation. The first offense would be a $25 fine, which would go up for each following citation. Teens would also have the option work off their fine through community service or through a tobacco cessation program.

This isn't the first bill of its kind for the Nevada legislature, but sponsors are hopeful that this one has a good chance of passing.

"It seems to be an issue that unfortunately we haven't addressed yet," Settelmeyer said, "but I believe that the culture on cigarette smoking by youth has changed."

Settelmeyer said they are also considering a provision in the bill that would seal minors' records after they paid their fine, so that a tobacco-related offense wouldn't hurt their futures.

The bill was discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first time Thursday.

Written by Arianna Bennett
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