Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/25/2003 08:05 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS                                                                            
                       STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                         March 25, 2003                                                                                         
                           8:05 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Carl Morgan, Chair                                                                                               
Representative Pete Kott                                                                                                        
Representative Ralph Samuels                                                                                                    
Representative Sharon Cissna                                                                                                    
Representative Albert Kookesh                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Kelly Wolf, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Representative Tom Anderson                                                                                                     
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 189                                                                                                              
"An  Act  raising  the  age  for  purchase,  sale,  exchange,  or                                                               
possession of tobacco to age 21."                                                                                               
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
HOUSE BILL NO. 190                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to certain  licenses for the sale, distribution,                                                               
or  manufacture of  tobacco products;  relating to  tobacco taxes                                                               
and  sales  and  cigarette  tax stamps;  relating  to  provisions                                                               
making certain  cigarettes contraband and subject  to seizure and                                                               
forfeiture; relating  to certain crimes, penalties,  and interest                                                               
concerning  tobacco taxes  and  sales;  relating to  notification                                                               
regarding  a  cigarette  manufacturer's  noncompliance  with  the                                                               
tobacco product Master Settlement  Agreement or related statutory                                                               
provisions and  to confiscation of  the affected  cigarettes; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     - BILL HEARING POSTPONED                                                                                                   
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                               
BILL: HB 189                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE:PROHIBIT TOBACCO USE UNTIL AGE 21                                                                                   
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S)CRAWFORD                                                                                           
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
03/12/03     0512       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
03/12/03     0512       (H)        CRA, L&C, JUD                                                                                
03/12/03     0512       (H)        REFERRED TO CRA                                                                              
03/25/03                (H)        CRA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                   
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE HARRY CRAWFORD                                                                                                   
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 189 as the sponsor.                                                                           
STEPHANIE ZIDEK-CHANDLER, Manager                                                                                               
State of Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Unit                                                                             
Division of Public Health                                                                                                       
Department of Health & Social Services                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified  that the unit  is neutral  on HB
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 03-9, SIDE A                                                                                                             
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  CARL  MORGAN  called  the  House  Community  and  Regional                                                             
Affairs  Standing  Committee  meeting   to  order  at  8:05  a.m.                                                               
Representatives Morgan,  Kott, Samuels,  and Cissna  were present                                                               
at  the call  to order.   Representative  Kookesh arrived  as the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
HB 189-PROHIBIT TOBACCO USE UNTIL AGE 21                                                                                      
CHAIR MORGAN announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  189, "An Act raising the age  for purchase, sale,                                                               
exchange, or possession of tobacco to age 21."                                                                                  
Number 0073                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HARRY CRAWFORD,  Alaska State  Legislature, spoke                                                               
as  the sponsor  of HB  189.   Representative Crawford  indicated                                                               
that with  HB 189  members can positively  impact the  future and                                                               
make a  better world without  any extra expense.   Representative                                                               
Crawford  reviewed   the  statistics   provided  on   a  document                                                               
entitled, "Five  Good Reasons to  Raise the Legal Smoking  Age to                                                               
21", which read as follows:                                                                                                     
     1. Approximately  90 percent  of smokers  begin smoking                                                                    
     before  the  age   of  21.    Each   day,  about  6,000                                                                    
     adolescents try  a cigarette for the  first time; about                                                                    
     3,000 become daily smokers.                                                                                                
     2.  But  smoking  addiction   does  not  develop  among                                                                    
     adults.   Among those over  the age  of 21 who  take up                                                                    
     smoking for the  first time, more than  90 percent soon                                                                    
     drop it completely.                                                                                                        
     3. Of  an estimated  16.6 million  smokers in  the U.S.                                                                    
     (1995 figures),  5.3 million will die  prematurely from                                                                    
     smoking-related  disease,  resulting  in  an  estimated                                                                    
     $200 billion  in health care  costs (about  $12,000 per                                                                    
     smoker) and  about 64 million  years of  potential life                                                                    
     lost (12 to 21 years per smoking-related deaths).                                                                          
     4.  Cigarette smoking  is considered  to be  the single                                                                    
     most preventable contributor to chronic diseases.                                                                          
     5. Cigarette  smoking during childhood  and adolescence                                                                    
     produce   significant  health   problems  among   young                                                                    
     people.  A  starting age of smoking of  earlier than 21                                                                    
     more  than  doubles  the   risk  of  developing  future                                                                    
     smoking-related diseases.   It is critical  that access                                                                    
     of minors  to tobacco products be  reduced, and raising                                                                    
     the   legal  smoking   age  to   21  would   result  in                                                                    
     significant future savings in health costs.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD remarked  that  this  is something  that                                                               
[the legislature]  should and  could do.   Therefore, he  said he                                                               
would  appreciate   this  committee  reporting  HB   189  out  of                                                               
committee.   He  also  noted that  he  would appreciate  everyone                                                               
signing on as a co-sponsor.                                                                                                     
Number 0334                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT asked  how  many other  states have  similar                                                               
provisions in which the legal smoking age was raised to 21.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  answered  that several  have  tried  to                                                               
increase  the age,  although no  state has  actually accomplished                                                               
it.  For example, California  considered doing so but decided not                                                               
to because  it would  lose a considerable  amount of  the tobacco                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT inquired  as  to whether  there  is a  large                                                               
influx of people smoking between age 19-21.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD pointed  out that  under Alaska's  law a                                                               
person is  of age on their  19th birthday.  There's  no breakdown                                                               
on  [smoking] for  the ages  of 19-21.   However,  90 percent  of                                                               
those who start  smoking do so before the age  of 21.  Therefore,                                                               
if  the  desire is  to  not  have people  take  up  smoking as  a                                                               
lifelong habit, the  best solution is to delay  the legal smoking                                                               
age to 21.                                                                                                                      
Number 0586                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  informed the  committee  that  she had  a                                                               
former  husband  and  a  late   husband  who  both  died  due  to                                                               
complications  from cigarette  smoke.   She  then  turned to  the                                                               
perspective of a  sociologist and noted that  there are different                                                               
markers  for adulthood.   In  the U.S.,  some of  the markers  of                                                               
adulthood include  the ability to  obtain a drivers'  license, to                                                               
be drafted  and to  be able  to legally  vote, drink,  and smoke.                                                               
However, those markers are at varying  ages.  She noted that some                                                               
psychologists  say   that  adolescence  is  being   prolonged  as                                                               
adulthood skills  and responsibilities  are being taken  on later                                                               
in life.                                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD pointed  out that no matter the  age of a                                                               
voter, the  decision to  vote won't kill  an individual  later in                                                               
life.   Representative  Crawford  related a  conversation he  had                                                               
with his nephew  who entered the military at age  18.  His nephew                                                               
said people should have the right  to smoke at age 18, especially                                                               
since that individual  has the right to die  for his/her country.                                                               
To that, Representative Crawford posed  the notion of raising the                                                               
age to enter the military to  21.  His nephew responded that such                                                               
couldn't be done because at age  21 a lot of individuals wouldn't                                                               
join  the military  because they  would realize  their mortality.                                                               
The  aforementioned illustrates  why  the smoking  age should  be                                                               
raised to 21, he  said.  By the time an  individual is 21, he/she                                                               
makes better decisions.                                                                                                         
Number 0892                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  MORGAN  remarked  that the  timing  of  this  legislation,                                                               
during a time of war, may not be  the greatest.  He turned to the                                                               
issue of  incarceration and  the matter  of whether  young people                                                               
should be tried  as a juvenile or an adult  when the young person                                                               
has  committed  a  serious  crime.    Chair  Morgan  related  his                                                               
personal experience with smoking.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  said  that  he would  like  to  provide                                                               
parents with  another tool to  keep their children  from starting                                                               
to  smoke.   He  related  his  belief  that  being able  to  tell                                                               
children that smoking  is illegal [until age 21]  is another tool                                                               
for  parents and  makes it  more  difficult for  young people  to                                                               
obtain cigarettes.   With  regard to  trying children  as adults,                                                               
Representative Crawford pointed  out that such is  only done when                                                               
a serious offense such as murder  has been committed.  He said he                                                               
believes  the aforementioned  is  a  completely different  debate                                                               
than the legal drinking and smoking age.                                                                                        
Number 1059                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  highlighted that there is  no fiscal note                                                               
from  the  Department of  Revenue  or  the Department  of  Public                                                               
Safety.   In essence, HB  189 creates a  new crime for  those age                                                               
18-20  and based  on  the  assumption that  there  would be  some                                                               
violations, investigations, and penalties,  he assumed that there                                                               
would be some  cost.  Therefore, [the zero fiscal  note from] the                                                               
Department of  Law didn't  make sense  to him.   He  recalled the                                                               
loss of  tax revenue California  faced and asked if  Alaska would                                                               
be in the same situation.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  pointed out  that  the  police and  the                                                               
courts are  supposed to be  enforcing the current smoking  age of                                                               
19 now.   Therefore, moving the age to 21  won't be an additional                                                               
cost, he said.  In fact,  the legislation will make it easier for                                                               
the police  to identify  underage smokers.   With regard  to loss                                                               
revenue, Representative  Crawford acknowledged that  some revenue                                                               
would  be lost.   However,  he  said he  felt that  it should  be                                                               
revenue that the state should be happy to lose.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS maintained his  belief that there would be                                                               
some cost incurred  in the criminal justice system  because a new                                                               
class  of 20-year-olds  that can't  do something  that they  once                                                               
could.    Philosophically,  Representative  Samuels  agreed  that                                                               
individuals make  better decisions at  age 21 versus  18, however                                                               
he  stressed that  individuals make  better decisions  at age  30                                                               
versus  21.   Representative  Samuels  said  that he  wasn't  yet                                                               
convinced that HB 189 would stop a 14-year-old from smoking.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD indicated that  stopping a 19-year-old or                                                               
20-year-old from smoking would be just  as good as stopping a 14-                                                               
year-old.   Representative Crawford highlighted that  there is no                                                               
redeeming social  good derived from smoking  whereas fighting for                                                               
the country  has a good  redeeming social value.   Representative                                                               
Crawford  stated that  anything that  can be  done to  lessen the                                                               
aforementioned burden on society should be done.                                                                                
Number 1335                                                                                                                     
CHAIR MORGAN asked  if there are any estimates as  to the savings                                                               
in health care costs if this legislation were to pass.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD answered that  many less people would try                                                               
smoking if  the decision to  start smoking was delayed  until age                                                               
21.   He  reiterated  that only  10 percent  of  those who  began                                                               
smoking after age  21 actually stay with it.   He recognized that                                                               
there is a  problem with enforcement and  with children obtaining                                                               
cigarettes  to smoke  and raising  the  legal smoking  age to  21                                                               
provides a better tool for enforcement, he said.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT, in  response  to  Chair Morgan's  question,                                                               
said that "we" don't know [the  savings in health care costs were                                                               
this  legislation to  pass]  because there  are  no studies  that                                                               
specify the  number of 19-year-olds  who begin smoking  at 19-21.                                                               
Therefore,   Representative  Kott   viewed  the   legislation  as                                                               
problematic because  there is no  nexus to establish  whether the                                                               
age should be increased to 21.                                                                                                  
Number 1528                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH remarked that if  he could see a redeeming                                                               
quality in smoking he could  understand the debate, however there                                                               
isn't one.   Everything  that can  be done  to keep  young people                                                               
from smoking until the age of 21  should be.  He pointed out that                                                               
the  existing drinking  age is  21, and  therefore he  questioned                                                               
what would be wrong with the  same for smoking.  Furthermore, the                                                               
war shouldn't be used as  an argument against raising the smoking                                                               
age.  This legislation is another  tool and it should be adopted,                                                               
he  said.    With  regard   to  enforcement,  he  echoed  earlier                                                               
testimony that it  should be a lot easier to  identify whether an                                                               
individual is under  21 versus under 18.   Representative Kookesh                                                               
stressed that this decision should  be made while keeping in mind                                                               
whether there  is a redeeming  quality of smoking.   Moreover, he                                                               
indicated the  need to keep in  mind what's in the  best interest                                                               
of the state and the children of the state.                                                                                     
CHAIR MORGAN asked if 13  and 14-year-olds are being stopped from                                                               
smoking now.   He emphasized that  he wasn't sure that  passing a                                                               
law would alleviate a social problem.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said that the  state needs to do a better                                                               
job with  enforcement and this legislation  would provide another                                                               
enforcement tool.  He explained  that currently only 18-year-olds                                                               
are allowed  to buy  cigarettes in  sting operations;  there have                                                               
been problems finding enough 18-year-olds  to perform these sting                                                               
operations.  Raising the age to  21 would allow the use of people                                                               
18-20 years  of age  in these  sting operations.   Representative                                                               
Crawford said  that he  would like  to see  more efforts  to stop                                                               
young  people from  smoking.   He pointed  out that  policy calls                                                               
have been made  with regard to alcohol and he  said he believes a                                                               
policy call should be made  with tobacco as well.  Representative                                                               
Crawford  characterized  smoking  as  a scourge  on  society  and                                                               
anything that can be done to lessen that should be done.                                                                        
Number 1800                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  pointed  out  that Alaska  has  a  strong                                                               
libertarian, freedom-loving streak.   She agreed that there isn't                                                               
anything   redeeming   about   cigarette   smoking.      Although                                                               
legislation is  the top  as far  as making  people do  things, it                                                               
hasn't  been  successful  in  changing   social  behavior.    For                                                               
instance, Alaska leads the nation  in alcoholism.  Representative                                                               
Cissna related  her belief that this  is a matter of  whether one                                                               
believes  social  issues  should   be  changed  through  laws  or                                                               
education.  Although education is  tougher, it's more successful,                                                               
she said.                                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  recalled his  childhood when  there were                                                               
no prohibitions  with regard to  obtaining cigarettes.   Over the                                                               
years the percentage of smokers in  the U.S. has decreased and he                                                               
attributed that to raising the age  at which it's legal to smoke.                                                               
Therefore, he said he believes  that trend should be continued in                                                               
order  to make  it  more  difficult for  young  people to  obtain                                                               
cigarettes and  start smoking.  This  is a policy call  that [the                                                               
legislature] should  make.  The  drinking age was raised  for the                                                               
same reason [that the smoking  age should be raised]; people make                                                               
better decisions when they're older.   If one can prevent tobacco                                                               
products  from getting  in  the  hands of  the  young, then  some                                                               
people  won't smoke,  and  therefore less  will  die of  smoking-                                                               
related diseases in the  future.  This is a chance  to do good in                                                               
the world and do so without an expense, he emphasized.                                                                          
Number 2013                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  MORGAN related  his belief  that education  is the  [best]                                                               
prevention.   If any legislation is  going to be passed  [in this                                                               
area], it should  be for more education.   Chair Morgan indicated                                                               
that he has a problem with HB  189, although he was clear that he                                                               
doesn't support smoking.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH  said  that  something has  to  be  done.                                                               
Everyone agrees that  there is a problem and  doing nothing sends                                                               
the wrong message.   If something else was on  the table, such as                                                               
an education  program, he  said he  would be  glad to  review it.                                                               
However,  there is  nothing  else on  the  table, he  emphasized.                                                               
Although this  legislation isn't the [ultimate]  solution, it's a                                                               
step that should be taken.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT stressed that his  problem is that he doesn't                                                               
know if there  is a problem for  those between the age  of 19 and                                                               
21.  He inquired  as to how many start smoking at  the age of 19.                                                               
"There's  no statistical  data out  there  that suggests  there's                                                               
anybody;   so  what   are   we  trying   to   cure,"  he   asked.                                                               
Representative Kott said  that the largest age group  is 13-18 as                                                               
suggested  by  all the  young  people  smoking outside  the  high                                                               
schools.   He  agreed  that  nothing else  is  on  the table  and                                                               
emphasized  that  there should  be  an  educational program  that                                                               
starts  at   the  home  through   the  final  grade   in  school.                                                               
Furthermore,  many parents  aren't parenting  in the  manner they                                                               
should.   Moreover,  there is  evidence that  when the  two heavy                                                               
smokers in  the family are mom  and dad, the child  would be more                                                               
impacted health  wise than  if she/he had  picked up  a cigarette                                                               
casually.   There are  many things, in  regard to  behavior, that                                                               
are  out  of the  control  [of  the  legislature and  the  laws].                                                               
Representative Kott agreed that there  is no redeeming value with                                                               
smoking just  as there is  no redeeming value with  a 16-year-old                                                               
behind the wheel who tragically  crashes and ends his/her life as                                                               
well as the lives of others.                                                                                                    
Number 2298                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  posed the question of  when does adulthood                                                               
begin.   As mentioned earlier,  there are different  ages marking                                                               
adulthood  for  different  things,  which  she  characterized  as                                                               
"crazy."  She  suggested that the best way to  address this is to                                                               
be consistent [in the age at which adulthood begins].                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH related his  belief that raising the legal                                                               
smoking age  to 21 is  appropriate because  it will be  rare that                                                               
there is  a 21-year-old in  high school.  Therefore,  no students                                                               
age 18 and 19 would [legally  be able to] bring cigarettes to the                                                               
high school.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD announced  his support  of putting  more                                                               
money into  education against smoking.   However,  that's another                                                               
bill and  HB 189 is on  the table and has  redeeming social value                                                               
and  it won't  cost  anything.   Furthermore,  raising the  legal                                                               
smoking  age to  21 will  result in  less people  smoking in  the                                                               
future.  Conversely, without the passage  of HB 189 there will be                                                               
more smokers.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  inquired  as   to  the  effort  to  bust                                                               
underage smokers at high schools across the state.                                                                              
Number 2550                                                                                                                     
STEPHANIE  ZIDEK-CHANDLER,  Manager,   State  of  Alaska  Tobacco                                                               
Prevention  and   Control  Unit,   Division  of   Public  Health,                                                               
Department  of  Health  &  Social  Services,  answered  that  the                                                               
information   from  the   police  contracts   relate  that   it's                                                               
insignificant  and  isn't  considered  a priority.    In  further                                                               
response to  Representative Samuels, she specified  that the unit                                                               
has three full-time and two  part-time investigators as well as a                                                               
host  of  confidential  informants.     Furthermore,  in  various                                                               
communities  throughout the  state the  community's police  force                                                               
contract  to  provide  inspections and  investigations  in  those                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  asked  if  Ms.  Zidek-Chandler  had  any                                                               
statistical  information  with  regard   to  where  the  underage                                                               
smokers obtained cigarettes.                                                                                                    
MS. ZIDEK-CHANDLER  answered that most [underage  smokers] obtain                                                               
tobacco  products from  family and  friends.   A small  amount of                                                               
young people  actually purchase tobacco  products in stores.   In                                                               
response to  Representative Kookesh,  she offered to  provide the                                                               
committee with  information from the Centers  for Disease Control                                                               
and Prevention (CDC).                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  asked if  the  unit  has experienced  any                                                               
budget cuts in recent years.                                                                                                    
MS.  ZIDEK-CHANDLER replied  no, but  noted that  the 20  percent                                                               
that was  allocated for tobacco  prevention and control  was just                                                               
realized this year.  Therefore,  she believes that through future                                                               
years of funding  one will see a significant  difference in youth                                                               
and adult tobacco  use.  This funding has allowed  the unit to do                                                               
far more with media campaigns,  statewide community programs, and                                                               
cultural changes.  The aforementioned  is what the unit has found                                                               
to be most effective.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA related  her  belief that  the unit  needs                                                               
more people  not less.   Representative Cissna asked if  the unit                                                               
has done  measures of  some of  the programs that  it has  put in                                                               
MS. ZIDEK-CHANDLER replied  yes and offered to  provide copies of                                                               
those.   She related  that the  Hellenthal studies  have revealed                                                               
that a significant decrease in  the amount of families that allow                                                               
smoking in the  home.  A lot  of change in social  norms is being                                                               
Number 2797                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS surmised that if  most of the young people                                                               
are obtaining cigarettes from their  family, then raising the age                                                               
wouldn't seem to do any good.                                                                                                   
MS.  ZIDEK-CHANDLER remarked,  "Evidence  does  not support  that                                                               
that  would  necessarily  impact   a  large  number  of  people."                                                               
Therefore, [the unit] is neutral on the legislation.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH inquired  as  to why  the  unit would  be                                                               
neutral  on HB  189 when  the unit  advocates for  people to  not                                                               
MS. ZIDEK-CHANDLER  explained that  [the unit] likes  to maintain                                                               
its focus  in arenas that  are known  to be effective.   Although                                                               
there  is  no  financial  cost to  the  legislation,  Ms.  Zidek-                                                               
Chandler suggested that  there may be a social cost  in that in a                                                               
libertarian  society  more laws  and  regulations  may result  in                                                               
increased  dissatisfaction   with  the  program  and   result  in                                                               
negative input.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR MORGAN inquired  as to what would be done  to those parents                                                               
who purchase cigarettes for their underage children.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD related that it  would probably be a rare                                                               
occasion for a  parent to purchase cigarettes  for their underage                                                               
children.  He said he  understood the reference to family members                                                               
to mean the older siblings.   Representative Crawford inquired as                                                               
to  how  Ms.  Zidek-Chandler  could make  the  earlier  statement                                                               
regarding a possible  backlash and inquired as  to the statistics                                                               
that would support it.                                                                                                          
MS.  ZIDEK-CHANDLER said  she didn't  have statistics  and rather                                                               
than  address that  question, Ms.  Zidek-Chandler reiterated  the                                                               
need to maintain focus in arenas that are known to be effective.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  asked  if Ms.  Zidek-Chandler  believes                                                               
that  raising the  age to  19 would  reduce the  number of  young                                                               
people who  start smoking and  that raising  the age to  21 would                                                               
reduce that even  more.  Or, through the  backlash, would raising                                                               
the legal  smoking age  to 21  cause more  young people  to start                                                               
MS.  ZIDEK-CHANDLER   acknowledged  that  everyone   agrees  that                                                               
tobacco is bad  for one's health and that Alaska  is one of three                                                               
states with 19 as the legal  smoking age.  Furthermore, there are                                                               
limited resources  and thus the  desire is  to keep the  focus on                                                               
what works.                                                                                                                     
TAPE 03-9, SIDE B                                                                                                             
MS.  ZIDEK-CHANDLER explained  that  the  backlash statement  was                                                               
based  on  meetings  during which  there  have  been  discussions                                                               
related to laws and clean indoor  air ordinances.  There are some                                                               
vocal Alaskans who  are very much in opposition to  more laws and                                                               
restrictions on business, et cetera.                                                                                            
Number 2948                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH inquired as  to whether the concern should                                                               
be  how businesses  react versus  the best  interest of  Alaska's                                                               
MS. ZIDEK-CHANDLER reiterated  that the focus should  be on areas                                                               
in which  it is known  there is a  serious problem and  much work                                                               
remains.    In response  to  Representative  Kookesh, Ms.  Zidek-                                                               
Chandler said that  the focus is always what's  best for Alaska's                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT  agreed  with Ms.  Zidek-Chandler's  earlier                                                               
point that there have been  some dramatic systemic changes in the                                                               
last couple  of years  and those programs  are just  beginning to                                                               
kick in.   Therefore,  raising the age  may actually  confuse the                                                               
point with regard to what is really working.                                                                                    
MS. ZIDEK-CHANDLER, in response  to Representative Kott, recalled                                                               
that  Alaska's  statutes  raised  the legal  smoking  age  to  19                                                               
perhaps three years ago.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if there  is sufficient data to suggest                                                               
that raising  the legal  smoking age to  19 has  reduced underage                                                               
smoking  or   even  discontinued   underage  smoking   after  the                                                               
individual reaches the age of 21.                                                                                               
MS.   ZIDEK-CHANDLER  responded   that   she   hasn't  seen   the                                                               
Number 2819                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT  asked  if  a  parent  can  legally  provide                                                               
tobacco products to their children under the age of 19.                                                                         
MS. ZIDEK-CHANDLER answered that her understanding was no.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  pointed out then  that there is  a disparity                                                               
when comparing  tobacco products and alcohol  because parents can                                                               
provide alcohol,  to be consumed  in the home, to  their underage                                                               
children.     Representative  Kott   noted  his   agreement  with                                                               
Representative Cissna  that perhaps  there should  be one  age at                                                               
which an individual is considered an adult.                                                                                     
Number 2755                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD wrapped  up by  reminding the  committee                                                               
that statistics show that the  number of people starting to smoke                                                               
now is less  than a few years  ago.  He said he  believes part of                                                               
the reason  for that is because  the legal age was  raised to 19,                                                               
and therefore raising  the legal smoking age to 21  would do more                                                               
good  and  result  in  less  smokers.    Representative  Crawford                                                               
encouraged the committee to join him  in his goal to decrease the                                                               
number of smokers in Alaska.                                                                                                    
CHAIR MORGAN announced that HB 189 would be held over.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT  applauded  the  sponsor's  well-intentioned                                                               
efforts, although he felt that it would be premature.                                                                           
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Community  and Regional  Affairs Standing  Committee meeting  was                                                               
adjourned at 9:00 a.m.                                                                                                          

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