Saturday, July 15, 2000

Police can take tobacco from teens

Other laws protecting children go into effect

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — Steve Schmidt wishes now that, when he was a teen-ager, a police officer would have confiscated the cigarettes he had started smoking.

        “I'm a smoker today, but I wish some cop would have come along and got me when I was 17,” said Mr. Schmidt, now the police chief of Fort Thomas.

        When Mr. Schmidt was growing up, police officers could not confiscate cigarettes or tobacco products from minors.

  Significant legislation from the 2000 General Assembly that takes effect this year:
  • 6 percent sales tax on out-of-state long distance calls.
  • Local option elections for alcoholic beverage sales at golf courses.
  • All-terrain vehicles operating on public roads.
  • Lower blood alcohol limit for drunken driving (effective Oct. 1).
  • All-county branch banking.
  • Confiscation of tobacco products from children under age 18.
  • Higher awards for state liability.
  • Churches exempted from public-accommodation law.
  • Schools close for Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
  • Manslaughter charge if child unattended in vehicle dies.
  • Official state rock — Kentucky agate.
        As of Friday, they can.

        Most of the laws the Kentucky General Assembly passed during its January-to-April session went into effect Friday.

        Under state statutes, bills passed by the legislature formally become law 90 days after the General Assembly adjourns. Exceptions are bills with emergency clauses or those carrying a later effective date.

        Among the laws that took effect was House Bill 10, which gives police the authority to confiscate tobacco products if minors are smoking or using the products in plain sight. Minors who refuse to turn over the products could be charged with disorderly conduct.

        It has been illegal for anyone under 18 to buy tobacco or for stores to sell the products to minors. The major change in the law is the power for police to confiscate the products.

        Chief Schmidt said officers in Fort Thomas will enforce the law.

        “It's a good idea,” Chief Schmidt said. “It could save some kid's life.”

        Lawmakers also took steps to protect younger children while boating.

        Children under 12 are now required to wear a life jacket while riding on most boats in Kentucky. The law does not apply to children on larger passenger boats, such as steamboats or excursion vessels like those operated by BB Riverboats in Covington.

        Joe Engelman, harbor master at Big Bone Landing Marina in Boone County, said typically only about half the kids he sees boating on the Ohio River are wearing life jackets.

        “It's a good idea, especially for children, to wear life jackets when they are on the river,” Mr. Engelman said. “It's just so much safer.”

        Among the other laws that took effect Friday:

        • Schools will be required to close the third Monday in January in observance of the birthday of slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Most schools in Northern Kentucky already honor Dr. King by closing on that day.

        • Children under 8 years old cannot be left unattended in a vehicle during hot weather. Any person who causes a child's death by leaving a child unattended in a vehicle will face second-degree manslaughter charges.

        • School districts now have the discretion to set policies for students who have pagers and cell phones while on school grounds. Under a law repealed by the legislature, it was illegal for a student to possess a telecommunications device while at school.

        • It is a felony to steal or assume another person's identity — a crime growing with the rise of the Internet — and to use that identity to obtain cash, goods or services.


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