Lawmakers To Introduce a Bill Requiring Age Verification for Online Cigarette Purchases
California lawmakers in January will introduce legislation that would require online sites that sell cigarettes to verify the ages of purchasers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Even though it is illegal for people under age 18 to purchase tobacco, the "relative anonymity" of the Internet allows minors to obtain cigarettes from 88 Web sites and "American Indian cyber 'trading posts.'" Although some sites state that purchasers must be over age 18 to buy tobacco products, many sites allow people to pay C.O.D. To test the system, the chief of staff of Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Los Angeles) recently was able to purchase cigarettes online through a New York tribe using his two-year-old daughter's name. Frommer and Assembly member Helen Thomson (D-Davis) co-wrote a bill that would require online vendors to verify a buyer's age by using a database of state birth records or by requiring purchasers to fax a copy of valid identification; require either a credit card of personal check for purchases, "not cash"; and require the buyer to "personally" sign for the merchandise on delivery. The Chronicle reports that cigarette makers are not opposed to "stricter controls" for underage purchasing. Phillip Morris spokesperson Tom Ryan said he believes "very firmly that all of our products should be sold with all applicable laws." Rhode Island and Kansas "appear to be" the only states that require Web sites to verify the ages of online cigarette purchasers, the Chronicle reports (Salladay, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.