CINCINNATI (TDB) -- U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt is co-sponsoring the inaptly named "Stop Adolescent Smoking Without Excessive Bureaucracy Act of 2008." But if HR 5513 ever becomes law, the conservative Republican could have the cops busier than ever. The measure says police agencies will have to inform parents whenever kids are spotted or suspected of having any kind of tobacco product. Which probably means more bureaucracy and more paperwork. And probably less time to fight serious crimes like rape, robbery, murder, burglary, larceny and all the other offenses already on the books. Not that smoking is a good thing. But maybe law enforcement agencies have other things to do than tell parents that Johnny or Janie might have been puffing on a Marlboro.
Schmidt's proposed federal law would make it illegal for anyone under 18 to "possess or attempt to possess a tobacco product in a public place." And the cops would have to deliver the news, even if the kids "allegedly" had tobacco. Section (C) of the Schmidt bill declares:
"A law enforcement agency, upon determining that an individual under 18 years of age allegedly purchased or received a tobacco product, or allegedly received a tobacco product in a public place, shall notify the individual's parent or parents, custodian, or guardian (if the name and address of a parent, guardian, or custodian is readily ascertainable) . . "
No arrest, no jail, no fine. But parental notification by the cops. Just a knock on the door. Or a letter. Or a phone call from the local gendarmes. Or maybe the FBI. Or maybe an entirely new law enforcement agency would have to be created to deliver the news -- the tobacco police.
Schmidt is one of eight cosponsors of the bill, which was filed Feb. 28. The measure -- which hasn't drawn much attention -- is intended to reduce youth usage of tobacco products. Schmidt, who hails from Clermont County and represents the section of the state where Ohio's tobacco industry is based, faces Democrat Vic Wulsin in the November general election. Wulsin is a public health physician.
Besides Schmidt, the others on the tobacco police bill -- all Republicans -- are Marsha Blackburn, TX; Howard Coble, NC; Mary Fallin, OK, Tom Feeney, FL; Trent Franks, AZ; Patrick McHenry, NC; Peter Sessions, TX; John Shadegg, AZ.