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COLUMBUS Patton targets tobacco products



Published: Thu, May 3, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



One bill triples the fine for those selling cigarettes to minors.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- State Rep. Sylvester Patton wants to make it more difficult for minors to purchase tobacco products and make it easier for motorcycle enthusiasts to gain access to public places.

Patton of Youngstown, D-64th, has introduced a bill that prohibits the denial of access to public places to people solely because they ride motorcycles or wear clothing that has the name of motorcycle-related organizations.

The other bill increases the fine for the illegal sale of cigarettes to minors from a self-service display at stores.

Patton introduced the tobacco bill after being lobbied by students of Youngstown's Volney Rogers Junior High School, who were concerned about stores that sell tobacco products to minors.

The bill, which will be considered by the House's Criminal Justice Committee, only affects stores that sell cigarettes from self-service displays and not those that require patrons to ask clerks for cigarettes that are behind a counter or to buy them out of vending machines, Patton said.

Those found guilty of selling cigarettes from self-service displays to minors face fines up to $250 for each conviction.

Under Patton's proposal, a first-time conviction carries a maximum fine of $750 with subsequent convictions carrying fines up to $1,000 each.

"It's a big deal to sell cigarettes to minors," Patton said. "Perhaps $250 seems strong, but people will really take notice with a $750 fine the first time."

About motorcycle bill: Patton says he was asked to sponsor the motorcycle bill by state Rep. Rex. A. Damschroder of Fremont, R-89th, chairman of the House's Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

Damschroder, a motorcycle rider, is the bill's primary co-sponsor.

"I believe in four wheels under me," Patton said. "But motorcycle riders spoke to me and said they are not able to get into restaurants, motels or hotels because they are riding together.

"I'm not talking about Hell's Angels. I'm talking about lawyers, teachers, bankers, news reporters who like to ride motorcycles."

The bill, which will go to the Transportation Committee for hearings, would permit motorcycle riders who are refused admittance to businesses to seek civil action.

The bill allows businesses to deny admittance to people who are in criminal gangs or who wear obscene clothing or the name or symbol of a criminal gang.




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