immediate release -- Tuesday, January 16, 2001.
Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699
Proposes New Tobacco Laws
measures focus on reducing sales to and use by young Iowans.
Attorney General Tom Miller announced a series of proposals to improve
Iowa laws relating to the sale, advertising and regulation of tobacco
products in Iowa.
"Our constant goal
is to reduce the number of young people who become addicted to nicotine,
and to reduce the tobacco-related death and disease that plague Iowans
of all ages," Miller said. "A thousand kids take up tobacco every month
in Iowa, and five thousand Iowans die premature deaths each year because
of tobacco. We must and we can reduce that costly death toll."
several tobacco-related legislative proposals:
at least $9.3 million for Iowa tobacco prevention and control programs.
"I strongly support appropriating at least as much next year as we are
using now," Miller said. The Legislature appropriated about $9.3 million
for the current year. Iowa is slated to receive about $54 million from
the tobacco industry that can be designated by the Governor and Legislature
for various programs next year.
- Ban tobacco
sales that are not face to face. "Retailers in over-the-counter
transactions can make a realistic judgment about a person's age and
can check IDs," Miller said. "Sales by fax, phone, mail or the Internet
offer little protection against selling this lethal product to children.
We should prohibit such sales."
- Ban outdoor
advertising within 1000 feet of schools and playgrounds. "We
banned Joe Camel and most advertising aimed directly at kids, but this
is a loophole we should close," Miller said. "Kids should be able to
play and attend school without being subjected to tobacco advertising."
He noted that Des Moines and Marshalltown have adopted ordinances with
advertising restrictions, and he said such restrictions should be in
point-of-sale advertising to black text on white background.
"We banned billboards, but tobacco advertising that affects kids has
moved indoors," Miller said. "Colorful and eye-catching tobacco promotions
often are placed at child's eye level in stores. We should follow the
determination of the FDA that such ads should be restricted to black
and white text, so adults get the information they need without the
ads appealing to kids."
any obstacles to local expansion of the State's Clean Indoor Air Act
(Ch. 142B) or ordinances regulating other aspects of tobacco (Ch. 453A.)
"We take the position that localities have such authority and are not
preempted by state statutes, but we should clarify that in the interest
of avoiding unnecessary litigation and waste of resources," Miller said.
"The Legislature should remove any issue that cities and counties have
authority to extend clean air protection to places not now covered by
State law." Various local jurisdictions are exploring steps to protect
children, employees and others from the ill-effects of second-hand smoke.
that only "fire-safe" cigarettes be sold in Iowa. "Tobacco
companies should be required to make cigarettes less prone to continuous
burning even when they are unattended," Miller said. "Why? Because they
cause fires in Iowa that kill people, cause injuries, and cost millions
of dollars in damage every year." Miller noted that New York State is
taking steps to require fire-safety standards for cigarettes - which
reportedly have been engineered to keep burning even after being set
down or dropped, so smokers don't have to relight cigarettes that go
a statewide licensing system for tobacco sellers. Miller said:
"We need to modernize and improve our current system, under which cities
and counties are responsible for issuing cigarette permits, collecting
the permit fees, and taking action against permit-holders for legal
violations such as sales to minors. I urge the Legislature to adopt
a statewide licensing structure much like we have now for alcohol retailers.
We should do this in a way that relieves the burden on localities and
leads to more uniform enforcement."
- Allow localities
to collect adequate fees and fines to support local enforcement efforts
(if a statewide licensing system is not
established.) Permit fees (which are retained by the permit-issuing
city or county) must be raised from their 1921 levels of $50 to $100
a year, Miller said. "We need to support cities and counties whose administrative
and enforcement duties have expanded dramatically," he said. Local jurisdictions
should be expressly granted the authority to extend the civil penalty
to repeat violators, and/or assess costs associated with such enforcement
actions, he said. (Current law requires a cigarette permit-holder to
pay a $300 civil penalty for the first offense; it imposes increasing
periods of permit suspension or revocation for subsequent offenses but
does not provide for additional financial penalties.)
Miller said Iowa's
program to reduce the human and financial costs of tobacco is underway
in the start-up phase.
Miller was joined
at the news conference by Dr. Stephen Gleason - head of the Iowa Department
of Public Health, which is overseeing most of the State's tobacco program.
They said Iowa's program has three main elements - enforcement, "community
partnerships," and a "counter-marketing" media program aimed primarily
at convincing young Iowans not to take up tobacco. Cathy Callaway heads
up the tobacco project of the Public Health Department.
Miller said successful
youth-related projects have been conducted, and contracts have been approved
to develop the counter-marketing effort. He said enforcement efforts organized
by the Alcoholic Beverages Division and Administrator Lynn Walding already
have high visibility - with agents and contracts in place and sales compliance
checks already being made in cooperation with local authorities in Cedar
Rapids, West Des Moines and elsewhere, and at the Iowa State Fair. In
addition, the Division conducted retail training and town hall meetings
to inform retailers and the public about Iowa's new comprehensive tobacco
Miller noted that
compliance checks last summer and fall showed that retailers sold tobacco
to under-age youth 29 percent of the time. "It's great that the figure
showed improvement and came in under the Federal Synar requirement, but
it's terrible that illegal sales are made that often," Miller said. "We
have to do better." Millions of dollars in federal substance abuse funds
hinge on meeting Synar compliance requirements. Illegal tobacco sales
to minors had to be under 31 percent for 2000, and must be under 28 percent
for 2001, and under 20 percent for 2002.
Miller urged the Legislature
to maintain funding for the State's tobacco program at least at current
"This is a huge undertaking,
and the stakes are very high," he said. "Nothing less than the physical
and financial health of our people and State are at stake."