NEW: Senate Passes Bill to Increase Penalty for Underage Smoking
Friday, March 09, 2012
The Senate Thursday passed legislation that its sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence), said he introduced because of sincere concerns for the health and welfare of the state’s young people.
Existing state law prohibits the use of tobacco products by those under 18, and assigns penalties to violators of either 30 hours of community service or participation in a tobacco treatment program.
The Ruggerio bill passed today by the Senate on a vote of 32 to 0, would make both penalties mandatory.
“A treatment program may be seen as a punishment for violating the law, but I see it as a chance to help young people make better judgments about how they treat their bodies and learn about the hazardous effects of smoking,” said Senator Ruggerio.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. An identical House bill, (2012-H7676), sponsored by Rep. J. Patrick O’Neill (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), is before the House Committee on Judiciary.