The list of states that have formally raised the tobacco purchasing age to 21-years-old continues to grow with Mississippi becoming the latest to change its laws.
On Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves signed SB 2596 into law, which will also includes a ban on possession of tobacco products by persons under 21, as well as a specific ban on students in high school, junior high or elementary school possessing tobacco products while on school grounds.
While similar bills in other states have avoided penalizing persons under 21-years-old for possessing tobacco products, Mississippi’s bill does not, calling for a first violation fine of $100 and 15 hours of community service for a first offense, which escalates to $500 and 40 hours of community service for a third violation. However, the violations are not to be recorded on the individual’s criminal record and will be expunged from any records—other than youth court records—once the punishment has been served.
Additionally, the bill raises the fines for a person who provides tobacco products or alcohol to a person under 21, increasing it to $1,000 for a first offense and up to a year in jail for subsequent violations. The bill also sets limits on people selling or otherwise furnishing tobacco products to a person under 21-years-old; doing so within 1,500 of a school building or within 1,000 feet of a church, public park, ballpark, public gymnasium, youth center or movie theater comes with penalties starting at $500 and up to 20 hours of community service.
The bill received the overwhelming support of the state legislature, passing the Senate by a 45-7 vote and the House of Representatives by a 116-3 vote.
The changes went into effect immediately upon passage.