"It's not a witch hunt kind of thing. We just think it's unfair to only burden businesses," Stup said.
Stup said she and Del. George W. Ownings, D-Calvert/Anne Arundel, both smokers, are sponsoring the legislation (H.B. 45) because they believe the first cigarettes a teenager smokes come from a parent or other adult instead of from a store.
Preventing youths from having access to those first cigarettes could keep them from forming a life-long habit, she said.
A lobbyist for the tobacco industry could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The bill's fines would mirror those already imposed on businesses that sell cigarettes to people under 18. A first-time offender could receive a maximum civil fine of $300; fines for second offenses could be as high $1,000; third offenders could be fined as much as $3,000.
Stup said she first tried to get the bill passed last year, but it failed to make it out of a House of Delegates committee by one vote. She filed the bill again last summer and it was introduced Tuesday, the opening day of the 1997 legislative session.
The bill has been assigned to the House Environmental Matters Committee. No hearing date has been scheduled.
- For more information about this bill or other legislative topics, you can contact the Maryland General Assembly World Wide Web site at (http://mlis.state.md.us).