WTVY  | Dothan, AL  | Politics, News

Fla. to Ban Sale of Lighters to Minors?

When the school bell rings, the race begins. It's off to football practice, a part-time job, maybe a young romance.

For many Florida teens, about the only extracurricular activity they care about is lighting up.

It's already illegal to sell tobacco to minors, but new legislation would go even further, banning the sale of lighters and matches - the tools of teen smoking.

High school seniors Desmond Colson and Paul Bailey complain the move will only fan the flames of resentment.

"You can't punish everyone. Yeah, you can't punish everyone just for one person's wrong, I mean, not everybody in America could be a smoker."

Smoking's one thing, but all too often, teens become enlightened in entirely the wrong way by using lighters as weapons, both on the streets and on campus.

"They really is tricky."

Abe Nicholson's worked as a school janitor and bus driver, and he's seen first-hand what even kids in elementary school are doing with the matches and lighters they pick up at the store.

"Some kids get mad and get vigilantes at another kid, pour gasoline on him and set him on fire," he said. "They think it's a joke, it's funny. Sometimes they go by houses and set the houses on fire just because they just want to do something crazy."

And whether that 'something crazy' is puffing away their health or literally fighting with fire, it's all become a big enough issue to spark a crackdown.

Under the legislation, store clerks caught selling lighters or matches to someone under 18 would have to pay $500 and could spend up to 60 days in jail. Second offenders would pay $1,000 and face up to a year in jail.


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