Teen Smoking and the Law! 

Teen Smoking and the Law! 
Posted by FoM on March 20, 1999 at 13:12:09 PT
Youth Platform 
 Most states have laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco products to minors, but enforcement of these laws is virtually nonexistent. That's not the case in Florida, where anyone under 18 caught smoking, buying or even being in possession of cigarettes is cited and ordered to appear in court with his or her parents.
 Plainclothes policemen, working overtime paid by money from Florida's settlement with the tobacco industry, patrol popular teen hang-outs to catch offenders in the act. Minors face community service, stiff fines, and after a third offense, suspension of their driver's license until they turn 18.   Every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,000 youths under 18 become smokers.   MAURA E. MONTELLANO spoke with students about stricter enforcement of the anti-smoking laws.   * * *   KIM BELL   17, senior, Duarte High School   Alaw like this would only make it harder for teens to smoke. Some people, when they know it's hard to get something, might give it up. This will keep teens from smoking because once parents get involved, it changes things. A lot of kids' parents don't even know they smoke, so they would find out. Then knowing that the fine comes from their parents' pockets might get them to stop smoking.   There is so much out there already telling us about the effects of smoking that I don't think the fact it is illegal makes it less enticing. People are going to still want to try it. Those who do so know what could happen, healthwise.   I don't think kids care if they get their driver's license revoked. It would just mean having to wait a little longer to drive. And since you have to be cited several times before that can even happen, it might never get to that point. * * *   EKAETTE AKPAN   17, senior, Duarte High School   Laws don't keep kids from smoking. They only force them to find new ways to do it.   If people want something bad enough, you can't make a law and think that will stop them. It's like Adam and Eve. You tell them "Don't eat that apple," and they're going to want to eat that apple.   The fine won't deter many. There will be some who say it's not worth it, that they can't afford to smoke. The fine and the citation are a big price to pay. Most kids don't have jobs that could cover these kinds of fines.   It's illogical to go after the driver's license though. I just don't see how smoking and driving are related. Why would they want to take that? If it's alcohol, then I can understand. But smoking doesn't cause accidents. Where's the logic in that?   Initially, smoking begins as an experience but it becomes an addiction as it progresses. It leads to other things. But ultimately this law will have an opposite effect. If it's forbidden, people are going to want to find out what's the big deal. * * *   JENNIFER MARTINEZ   17, senior, Hoover High, Glendale   Forbidding smoking makes it even more enticing. Some teens want to rebel. Some will see it as more exciting, more challenging to do something they are being told not to do.   Taking away the driver's license hits teens where it hurts. Driving is a big deal when you are our age. Paying the fines won't hurt as much as not being able to drive. This is something that will make people think that smoking might not be worth it.   Most teens smoke without their parents' knowledge. Once the parents find out, they will hound the kids about it. That's why kids will do what they have to do to keep their parents from finding out. You can always hide and do it.   A lot of teens smoke because they think it's cool. But for those who are already addicted, they don't necessarily need a crowd for it, they will smoke anywhere. And once they smoke, they're going to want to try something else. Anyone who has tried marijuana has probably smoked a cigarette first.   Some weaker individuals are influenced by the glamorization of smoking. * * *   PATRICK LAM   17, junior, Gabrielino High School, San Gabriel   Most kids know it's illegal to smoke, but that hasn't stopped them.   Instead of walking around smoking, they hide and do it. There are a lot of kids at my school who smoke, maybe not at school but they do smoke. I don't believe any kind of enforcement is going to keep them from doing so. Some of my friends have cars and they drive around looking for a place that won't card them; that becomes the regular place to go.   Cigarettes are not a gateway drug. It's a misconception that smoking will lead to smoking marijuana or other drugs. It's just a way to relax.   No matter what, kids are always going to want to try it just to experience it. They will either like it or not. Some become addicted; others don't.   I just don't believe that being cited or fined will make anyone stop smoking. It won't make a difference. This will only drive kids into hiding and to do it even more just out of rebellion. * * *   FAIZAN HANIF   18, senior, Hoover High, Glendale   It isn't very difficult to get cigarettes. Someone can buy them for you.   The fines might not stop teens from smoking. Personally, mandatory community service would be more effective.   To have your driver's license taken from you is one of the worst things that could happen to a teen. Without a driver's license you're at the mercy of your parents. So this might be an effective way to keep teens from smoking.   For something like smoking or drinking, the state does have the right to tell kids what to do. 1999 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved
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Comment #1 posted by Autumn, 17 on April 14, 2000 at 10:02:42 PT:
Teenage smoking
I would love to see all states pass a law that required anyone who wanted to purchase/smoke be of at least 21 years of age. Anyone getting caught cited, fined or punished. One of the comments I read spoke about not being able to see the connection between smoking and driving. Some states revoke a license if child support isn't paid promptly-is there a connection there-NO. The connection is this, teens who smoke are breaking a law. Period. Driving is a priviledge given to us by our state government. A priviledge given to those who have earned & kept that right by obeying laws. Also one that can be revoked if a law is broken. I have had a problem with our 16 year old daughter who insists upon sneaking & hiding her smoking. To be able to hold her license over her head has been a big stronghold in our fight. I say HURRAH! for Florida!
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