Teen smokers face stiffer penalties under legislation headed for Governor Vilsack’s approval. The Iowa Senate last night gave final approval to a bill which doubles fines for kids caught trying to buy or smoking tobacco.The measure was weakened, though. Legislators balked at the idea of taking away a drivers license from a teen caught a third time smoking or trying to buy smokes. Senator Mike Connolly, a teacher in Dubuque, argued for that tougher penalty. He says there needs to be some sanctions that are meaningful to young people.But Senator Jack Rife of Durant, a smoker himself, said he was tired of beating up on teen smokers. He says methamphetamine, alcohol and other drugs are more dangerous to teens than “an occasional cigarette someplace.”Today, the penalty for underage smoking is 50 bucks. Once the bill becomes law, the penalty for trying to buy or possess cigarettes will be one-hundred dollars for kids under the age of 18.
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