According to a report by Guampdn, Guam senators are planning to discuss four bills in a public hearing on Tuesday, December 12, aimed at curbing teenage smoking on the island. These bills have been proposed by Senator Sabina Perez.
Senator Perez highlighted the detrimental effects of tobacco and nicotine use and dependence, particularly on adolescents who are still in the developmental stage. According to a report from the State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup, the usage of electronic nicotine delivery systems, commonly known as “e-cigarettes,” is alarmingly high among Guam’s teenagers. Approximately one in four high school students, or 26.5%, and approximately one in four middle school students, or 23.5%, reported current usage of e-cigarettes.
Senator Perez expressed that these data are shocking. She stated that some studies have found that teenagers who smoke and are exposed to nicotine are more likely to become addicted, which can harm their cognitive development. Furthermore, addiction during adolescence is also more difficult to overcome.
Senator Perez stated that tobacco-related diseases are currently the leading cause of death in Guam, and tobacco control policies are closely associated with reducing smoking and smokeless tobacco use. She emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to control the spread of tobacco and nicotine products, enhance youth defense mechanisms, raise their health awareness, and promote a more active lifestyle.
Senator Perez mentioned that the passage of bills 186, 187, 194, and 185 will strengthen tobacco control laws, prevent youth access to tobacco and nicotine products, and allocate more resources towards education, prevention, cessation, and enforcement efforts.
Bill 194-37 requires any retailer selling tobacco and nicotine products to undergo training before obtaining a license.
The bill will increase fines and license suspensions for the sale of products without a permit. For first-time offenders, fines will be raised to $5,000. For second-time offenders, fines will be increased to $10,000 and the offender will be ineligible for a permit for two years following the fine. For third-time offenders, fines will be raised to $20,000. Additionally, according to the bill, there will be an increase in funding and enforcement for tobacco and nicotine education and prevention programs.
Bill No. 187-37 will prohibit the sale of tobacco or e-cigarette products in Guam through vending machines. Meanwhile, Bill No. 195-37 aims to restrict the advertising of tobacco products or e-cigarettes.
Indirect advertisements for various tobacco products still remain widespread in retail stores, shop windows, and parking lots. This bill aims to prohibit the advertising of tobacco products or e-cigarettes through various media such as television, radio, print, as well as within 6 feet of retail points.