Bill Would Prohibit Distribution of Free Cigarettes to Consumers
A bill currently making its way through the state legislature is designed to keep teens from getting their hands on free tobacco products.
Assembly Bill 1033 essentially bans tobacco giveaways to consumers, allowing cigarettes to be given only to wholesalers or distributors.
According to the state, tobacco companies gave away more than $5 million worth of tobacco products in the last two years.
Although laws are already in place to restrict giveaways by tobacco companies, the author of the bill said it ensures that free cigarettes stay of the hands of those under 18. "In the end people still have that choice as to whether or not they're going to smoke," said Assemblymember Cindy Montanez, D-San Fernando. "We're just trying to prevent that free distribution of tobacco samples getting into the hands of minors."
Critics say the legislation unfairly targets the marketing techniques of tobacco companies. Previous bills calling for similar restrictions have failed to gain legislative approval.