- Health Advocates Question Whether
Youth Penalties Are Working In Texas
- Fourteen months ago, Texas made it illegal for minors to possess
tobacco. The penalty for being caught is a fine up to $250 and
attendance at a day-long tobacco-awareness class or community
The Houston Chronicle reports that of the 1,437 Houston
minors cited for possession of tobacco since January 1, 1998,
991 didn't even show up in court.
Minors who fail to come to
court or skip the awareness class can have their drivers
licenses suspended for up to 180 days and have a warrant issued
for their arrest once they turn 18.
Public health advocates are questioning whether a Texas law that
makes possession of tobacco by minors a crime is discouraging
teenage tobacco consumption.
"We like to promote things that
work," said Dr. Donald Sharp, a medical epidemiologist with the
Center for Disease Control's Office on Smoking and Health.
"There is no evidence this works." Municipal Court Judge David
Fraga is also unsure if the law is effective. "It appears that
it's making young people conscious of it because they're aware
of losing their license. As for the health issue, I can't tell
- ASSOCIATED PRESS, (3/22/99) "Tobacco Law's Effect Questioned"
1999 -- All Rights Reserved|