Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124
03/05/2020 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS
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HB 174-MIN. AGE TO POSSESS NICOTINE/ECIG PRODUCT 8:03:30 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 174, "An Act raising the minimum age to purchase, sell, exchange, or possess a product containing nicotine or an electronic smoking product; and providing for an effective date." 8:03:41 AM CO-CHAIR HANNAN moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 174, Version 31-LS0957\S, Caouette/Radford, 2/21/20, as a working document. CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND objected for purposes of discussion. 8:04:16 AM REPRESENTATIVE GARY KNOPP, Alaska State Legislature, as prime sponsor, presented HB 174. He explained that in the original bill version there was an exemption for military personnel to keep the age limit to 18; however, since then the federal government has taken action to set the federal standard at 21. The purpose of the proposed CS was to comply with the federal standard. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP said even with the change in the federal government standard, the state's penalties are slightly harsher. He explained: So, if you were to sell to a person under 21 but age 20, the federal ... penalties would apply; but if you sold to somebody under the age of 19, then the state regulations would apply. So, that's the discrepancy in the age difference. So, if we bring the ... state's limit up to 21, then we eliminate that, and then ... the penalties we had put in over time for selling tobacco products to underage minors would apply. 8:06:40 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND noted those available to answer questions. 8:07:01 AM KERRY CROCKER, Staff, Representative Gary Knopp, Alaska State Legislature, presented HB 174 on behalf of Representative Knopp, prime sponsor. He read the sponsor statement, which read as follows [original punctuation provided]: House Bill 174 HB 174 will change Alaska Statute to match recently implemented Federal guidelines for the sale of tobacco products. This bill will raise the legal age of tobacco use in Alaska to 21 and in doing so end discrepancies in both statute and enforcement between federal and state tobacco use laws. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, smoking costs the State of Alaska $575,000,000.00 in direct medical expenditures and kills an estimated 700 persons annually. The deaths of Alaskans to smoking further costs the state $261,000,000.00 yearly in lost productivity. According to the Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey 12% of male youths and 9% of female youths use tobacco products. This use of tobacco products becomes more prevalent the higher the grade level the student is in; rising from 6% in 9th grade to 16% in 12th grade. The doubling of the number of youth tobacco users between their freshman and senior years of high school highlights how access to tobacco products leads to a rise in tobacco use. By raising the legal age of tobacco use to the age of 21 from the age of 19 we will be further removing access to tobacco products from Alaskan youth by removing access within their own peer groups. The Alaska Department of Health and Human Services cites that in 2017 only 11% of Alaskan high school students who used tobacco products purchased those products for themselves. That leaves 89% of Alaskan high school students who obtain tobacco products by other means, including, borrowing them from a peer or giving a peer over the legal age money to purchase tobacco products on their behalf. It is important to match Alaskan smoking statutes with federal guidelines in order to allow State law enforcement personnel to prevent and enforce sales to under age consumers. It is the intent of this bill to not only match Alaska Statute with Federal guidelines, but to combat tobacco use among Alaskan children. MR. CROCKER noted that Alaska receives approximately $2.8 million in federal substance abuse grants, and if the state does not comply with the federal standard set at age 21, then it would "eventually lose some of those grants." 8:09:14 AM INTIMAYO HARBISON, Staff, Representative Gary Knopp, Alaska State Legislature, on behalf of Representative Knopp, prime sponsor, explained changes in a committee substitute and offered a sectional analysis during the hearing on HB 174. He explained that Version S would remove Section 3 of the original bill pertaining to correctional facilities and active duty military members; it would amend Section 5 to remove language pertaining to active members of the armed forces of the United States; Section 6 would be amended by the removal of [paragraph (3), subparagraph (B)] and [paragraph (4), subparagraph (B)], both relating to active duty members; it would amend Section 12 to remove [paragraph (6)], pertaining to active duty members of the armed forces; and it would add Section 15, to repeal AS 11.76.100(e). MR. HARBISON next presented the sectional analysis, which read as follows [original punctuation provided]: Section 1: Amends Alaska Statute to raise the age of selling or giving tobacco, from Minor to 21. Section 2: Amends Alaska Statute to raise the age of selling or giving tobacco, from 19 to 21. Section 3: Amends Alaska Statute to raise the age of possession for tobacco from 19 to 21. Removes exemptions for prisoners. Section 4: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age in the sale of tobacco outside a controlled area from 19 to 21. Section 5: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age of selling or giving a product containing nicotine to a minor from Minor to 21. Section 6: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age of selling or giving a product containing nicotine to a minor from 19 to 21. Section 7: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age of selling or giving a product containing nicotine to a minor from 19 to 21. Section 8: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age of selling or giving a product containing nicotine to a minor from 19 to 21. Section 9: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age on the restriction on shipping or transporting cigarettes from 19 to 21. Section 10: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age on license endorsement for the sale of tobacco products from 19 to 21. Section 11: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age on license endorsement for the sale of tobacco products from 19 to 21. Section 12: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age on license endorsement for the sale of tobacco products from 19 to 21. Section 13: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age on license endorsement for the sale of tobacco products from 19 to 21. Section 14: Amends Alaska Statute to change the age of possession for tobacco under provisions inapplicable from 19 to 21. Section 15: No changes in this section. AS 11.76.100(e) is repealed. Section 16: Provides effective date of 01/01/2021. 8:12:28 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND removed her objection to the motion to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 174, Version 31- LS0957\S, Caouette/Radford, 2/21/20, as a working document. There being no further objection, Version S was before the committee. 8:12:47 AM REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON asked for confirmation that currently an establishment that sells cigarettes to someone under 21 years of age can lose its business license. MR. HARBISON answered that currently, because the State of Alaska has set the age of 19 in statute, it would not be able to enforce the federal regulation of age 21; therefore, the State of Alaska currently could not penalize any establishment for selling to somebody who is [19 or 20 years of age]. 8:13:47 AM REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP offered his understanding that what Representative Thompson wanted to know was whether a licensed facility selling tobacco products could lose its license for selling to an underage minor. REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON confirmed that is correct. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP mentioned penalties and said that "so much of that is in regulation not in statutes." He offered his understanding that "they actually are suspended from selling for the 20 days on a first offense." Subsequent offenses could result in a [selling license] being revoked. REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON expressed concerned about an establishment losing its business license. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP confirmed that the loss is of the license [to sell tobacco products] - not the business license. In response to a follow-up question, he said currently businesses [that want to sell tobacco products] get an endorsement on their licenses. 8:15:24 AM CO-CHAIR HANNAN asked for a description of the specific licensure to sell tobacco and the current process of punishment for violations and whether anything about that other than age requirement would be changed under Version S. 8:16:15 AM JOE DARNELL, Investigator III, Tobacco Youth Education & Enforcement Program, Division of Behavioral Health, Department of Health & Social Services, stated that in order to sell tobacco products in the state of Alaska, a retailer is required to have a business license and a tobacco endorsement. Once a retailer is convicted of selling to a minor "that conviction then goes over to licensing and licensing uses the conviction under statute to suspend the endorsement." He confirmed the bill sponsor's response that the first offense is a 20-day suspension, with a possibility of mitigating that penalty down to a 10-day suspension. At the point of first offense the business is "on a 2-year clock" and can be issued a 45-day suspension if another offense occurs within two years of the first. He said, "A second one after that is a 90-day suspension, and a third they can lose their endorsement, depending on circumstances, from one year to indefinitely." Under HB 174, he said, none of that would change; the bill would just raise the age from 19 to 21. In response to a follow-up question from Co-Chair Hannan, he said currently there are 1,500-1,600 endorsements and the division has a staff of 3 that do active enforcement. He said currently there is "a 6 percent sell rate of tobacco to minors" and 10-20 suspensions a year. He said it takes time to go through the suspension process; for example, the sale could have taken place in January and the suspension may not happen until October. He upped his previous estimation of 10-20 suspensions to 20-25 suspension annually. 8:19:51 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND stated her assumption that when an endorsement is suspended, the retailer's tobacco products stay on the shelf but cannot be sold and most likely cannot be sold back to the wholesaler; therefore, the retailer is "stuck with the product until the suspension is lifted." MR. DARNELL answered that is correct. 8:20:26 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND announced that HB 174 was held over.