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    Pa. Approves Tougher Tobacco Measures

    Bill provides an exemption for retailers who train their personnel not to sell to minors.

    HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A bill that would toughen penalties for the sale of tobacco to minors, but pre-empt similar local tobacco-control laws, was approved by the state lawmakers.

    The bill, expected to be signed by Gov. Mark Schweiker this week, would set down penalties against retailers for the sale of tobacco to minors. But it would also provide an exemption for retailers who train their personnel not to sell to minors and receive no more than three violations within a 24-month period, according to the New Castle (Pa.) News.

    Under the bill, retailers would be subject to fines ranging from $500 for a first offense to up to $5,000 for a fourth or subsequent offense if they sell tobacco products to minors. Retailers could also see their tobacco licenses revoked for up to 30 days if three offenses occur within 24 months or up to 60 days if four offenses occur within 60 months.

    Under current law, merchants who sell tobacco to minors face a fine of up to $25 for the first offense and a minimum $100 fine for subsequent offenses.

    However, the bill also would allow a retailer three defenses against the citations within a 24-month period if the retailer has trained employees in the law regarding sale of tobacco to minors and required employees to check the age of those who purchase tobacco.

    Among the local laws that would be pre-empted is a tough new Allegheny County ordinance that penalizes merchants up to $2,000 for selling to children and allows for the revocation of tobacco sales licenses.

    Supporters of the pre-emption provision say it would provide more uniform regulation of tobacco retailers, the report said.

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