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Legislation Allows Cities To Enact Tougher Tobacco Rules

Senate-passed amendments were enough Tuesday to convince most House skeptics to approve legislation billed as a better way to keep youths away from tobacco while eliminating some burdens on business.

The House voted 62-6 for the Senate-passed measure promoted by the tobacco industry and retailers, but opposed by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the American Cancer Society, the Idaho PTA and others.

It now goes to Gov. Phil Batt.

The new version allows cities and counties to enact tougher ordinances than the state law, makes it clear that minors may not sell tobacco as part of their employment and slightly eases the original bill’s requirement on notification of retailers when sting operations are planned.

Opponents who want photo ID required still criticized a provision that gives an “affirmative defense” to any vendor who “reasonably relies upon the driver’s license or other written or documentary evidence” that the buyer is at least 18, even if it turns out to be false.

But the bill’s sponsors argued that a requirement only for written ID actually would encourage more retailers to check identification. And Twin Falls Republican Rep. Mark Stubbs said the addition of local authority for more restrictive measures satisfied him.

If local parent-teacher groups or others want to push cities or counties, they are free to enact ordinances requiring even “a birth certificate and a saliva test if they want,” Stubbs said.

The bill also prohibits tobacco vending machines from being placed where anyone under 18 has access. But it requires parental consent for minors to help law enforcement agencies with sting operations targeting retailers.

, DataTimes