5d. Resolve ambiguity regarding the term "minor" in tobacco laws
COMMITTEE ON STATUTORY REVISION COMMITTEE
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10:45 AM -- 5d. Resolve ambiguity regarding the term "minor" in tobacco lawsD_Edited_SRCTobacco.pdf
Kristen Forrestal introduced the issue presented in the memo, that there are three sections of statute that are in relation to the prohibition of the purchase of tobacco products by minors, although "minor" isn't specifically defined in those sections. The general definitions section, which applies to all statutes (except when a specific section specifically defines a word) section 2-4-401, C.R.S., defines a minor as someone who is under 21 years of age (not 18). Ms. Forrestal explained that there is a potential conflict when interpreting the three sections outlined in the memo, in terms of which definition of "minor" applies. Ms. Forrestal explained that if the SRC requested a bill draft, staff would specifically define "minor," in those three sections, as someone who is under 18 years of age.
Chairperson Moreno then asked if there was a recently proposed bill to raise the age of ability to buy tobacco products to 21 years of age, rather than 18, and asked if this proposed bill had any implications for memo Ms. Forrestal had presented. Ms. Forrestal recalled that the bill did not pass.
Senator Steadman then suggested that the proposed bill came close to the line of what belongs with the committee and what's outside the scope of the committee's charge and that perhaps, in the provision that extends power to boards of county commissioners, the age was meant to not be 18, but how it is defined generally in the statutes, as 21. He shared his concern that this change would be substantive, especially considering the policy debates around this particular issue, and that the reference to minors including 18, 19, and 20 year-olds isn't a fatal flaw and that the General Assembly may have intended this ambiguity.
Chairperson Moreno seconded Senator Steadman's observations and that the committee should continue to exercise restraint. Senator Holbert agreed and pointed out that if a bill was pursued, the sponsor would have to explain to a committee of reference how the bill is different from the aforementioned bill raising the age from 18 to 21.
The Committee then chose not to pursue a bill draft.