Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/02/1996 03:36 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            HB 365 MINOR IN POSSESSION OF TOBACCO                            
 TAPE 96-27, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP called the Senate State Affairs Committee to order             
 at 3:36 p.m. and brought up HB 365 as the first order of business             
 before the committee.                                                         
 Number 010                                                                    
 PATTI SWENSON, Aide to Representative Con Bunde, prime sponsor of             
 HB 365, informed the committee that Representative Bunde is unable            
 to attend the meeting because the house is in session.  She is                
 available to read the sponsor statement and answer any questions              
 committee members might have.                                                 
 SENATOR LEMAN requested, in the interest of time, that the sponsor            
 statement not be read.  He asked that the sponsor statement be                
 published in the record.                                                      
                       SPONSOR STATEMENT                                       
                             HB 365                                            
 The problem of youth in possession of tobacco is pervasive in                 
 Alaska and throughout the United States.  In 1992, the problem was            
 addressed on a federal level by the passage of the Synar Amendment.           
 This amendment requires states to conduct random, unannounced                 
 inspections of locations which sell tobacco and to show a reduction           
 in illegal sales.  States which do not conduct the inspections and            
 reduce rates of illegal sales will lose some portion of their                 
 federal substance abuse block grants.                                         
 In order to reduce rates of nicotine addiction in youth and to                
 ensure compliance with the Synar Amendment, members of the Alaska             
 Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) have been seeking to undertake                
 "compliance checks" to determine which merchants are selling                  
 tobacco to children.  Compliance checks that involve having                   
 undercover youth attempt to buy tobacco are equivalent to the                 
 "random unannounced inspections" specified by the Synar Amendment.            
 However, because state law prohibits the possession of tobacco by             
 youth, the youth who participate in compliance checks could                   
 conceivably be charged with breaking the law, and the adults who              
 work with them could be charged with contributing to the                      
 delinquency of a minor.                                                       
 HB 365 was introduced to ensure our state's ability to conduct                
 compliance checks consistent with the mandate of the Synar                    
 Amendment.  This legislation adds a section to existing statute               
 that will allow youth to work in tandem with law enforcement                  
 agencies to complete compliance checks relating to the sale of                
 tobacco to youth.                                                             
 If there are no compliance checks, there is no way to know which              
 stores are selling tobacco to children.  If police don't know who             
 is selling, they obviously cannot enforce the law.  Youth will                
 continue to purchase tobacco and become addicted to nicotine, and             
 we will continue to see high rates of tobacco related death and               
 disease in Alaska.  In addition, many other substance abuse                   
 prevention and treatment efforts will suffer if federal substance             
 abuse block grants are reduced.                                               
 I urge your positive support of this legislation.  This legislation           
 will eliminate current obstacles to carrying out compliance checks            
 and will reduce illegal sales of tobacco.                                     
 CHAIRMAN SHARP stated there are three people signed up to testify.            
 He called Ms. Goade to testify.                                               
 Number 040                                                                    
 STACY GOADE, Seven Circles Coalition and Juneau Tobacco Prevention            
 Network, informed the committee that the coalition has almost                 
 completed the third compliance check, and during this last check,             
 there has only been one sale out of twenty-one stores.  So we know            
 that the compliance checks are working in Juneau.  Although this is           
 working, she does not think it is a substitute for increasing                 
 tobacco taxes.  She asked for support of that, and other issues               
 around tobacco use by youth.                                                  
 CHAIRMAN SHARP thanked Ms. Goade for her time, and stated that he             
 has read about the compliance checks in the newspaper.                        
 Number 067                                                                    
 GLENN RAY, Community Health & Emergency Medical Services, Division            
 of Public Health, Department of Health & Social Services,                     
 Coordinator of the Tobacco Prevention & Control Program, supports             
 HB 365.  It is a very useful bill.  It will in no means by itself             
 stop the problem of youth's addiction to tobacco, but it will show            
 significant reductions in the amount of tobacco that gets into                
 kid's hands.  Anything that can be done to decrease the                       
 experimentation by kids will decrease the number of frequent                  
 smokers, and thereby decrease the number of addicted adults.                  
 Number 080                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN asked Mr. Ray if he believes it's appropriate to have           
 parental consent for a minor under 18 to be able to participate in            
 this program?                                                                 
 MR. RAY thinks that's important.                                              
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS stated he knows what Senator Leman's leading           
 up to.                                                                        
 MR. RAY stated parental consent has been the standard procedure for           
 participation in compliance checks.                                           
 SENATOR LEMAN agreed with Mr. Ray.                                            
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS is sure Senator Leman will use that later.             
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked if there are any further questions.  If not,             
 what's the pleasure of the committee?                                         
 Number 100                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN made a motion to discharge HB 365 from the Senate               
 State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.                      
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated HB 365 was discharged            
 from the Senate State Affairs Committee.                                      

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