The Governor has signed into law a bill which doubles the penalties for underage Iowans who try to buy or smoke cigarettes. Vilsack says he hopes the bill sends a strong message to kids that smoking is not good for them.The bill also sets a first-ever penalty for store clerks caught selling cigarettes or other tobacco products to minors. Under current law, only store owners are penalized. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller hails the change. He says enforcement has to be balanced and enforced against those who buy and sell cigarettes.Vilsack signed another bill which prohibits the sale of so-called “grey market” cigarettes which are sold “tax-free.”Governor Tom Vilsack isn’t sure the state can bar the give-away of tobacco company products and merchandise, like “Joe Camel” hats and jackets. The Iowa House last week approved the ban on tobacco company “free-bies” — including cigarettes. He says it’s difficult to walk the fine line between marketing and commercial speech and prohibiting people from doing certain things. Vilsack says he’s not yet researched the issue to see if the state can legally ban the give-aways.Tobacco companies are banned from advertising on the airwaves, but Vilsack says that’s different.Regardless, Vilsack wants the proposal ripped out of the bill which spells out how Iowa spends the tobacco settlement money. Vilsack believes the marketing restriction could sink the bill’s chances in the Senate.
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