2015 Tennessee Code
Title 39 - Criminal Offenses
Chapter 17 - Offenses Against Public Health, Safety and Welfare
Part 15 - Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco and Vapor Products Act
§ 39-17-1509 - Enforcement -- Inspections -- Reporting -- Civil penalties.

TN Code § 39-17-1509 (2015) What's This?

(a) The department shall enforce this part in a manner that may reasonably be expected to reduce the extent to which tobacco products are sold or distributed to persons under eighteen (18) years of age, and shall conduct random, unannounced inspections at locations where tobacco products are sold or distributed to ensure compliance with this part.

(b) A person who violates § 39-17-1504, § 39-17-1506, § 39-17-1507 or § 39-17-1508 shall receive only a warning letter for the person's first violation and shall not receive a civil penalty for the person's first violation. A person who violates § 39-17-1504, § 39-17-1506, § 39-17-1507 or § 39-17-1508 is subject to a civil penalty of not more than five hundred dollars ($500) for the person's second violation, not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for the person's third violation and not more than one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) for the person's fourth or subsequent violation. For purposes of determining whether a violation is the person's first, second, third, fourth or subsequent violation, the commissioner shall count only those violations that occurred within the previous five (5) years. A civil penalty shall be assessed in the following manner:

(1) The commissioner shall issue the assessment of civil penalty against any person responsible for the violation;

(2) Any person against whom an assessment has been issued may secure a review of the assessment by filing with the commissioner a written petition setting forth the person's reasons for objection to the assessment and asking for a hearing before the commissioner;

(3) Any hearing before the commissioner shall be conducted in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, part 3. An appeal from the final order of the commissioner may be taken by the person to whom the assessment was issued, and the appeal proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with the judicial review provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, codified in §§ 4-5-322 and 4-5-323; and

(4) If a petition for review is not filed within thirty (30) days after the date the person received the assessment, the person shall be deemed to have consented to the assessment, and it shall become final. Whenever an assessment has become final, the commissioner may apply to the chancery court of Davidson County for a judgment in the amount of the assessment and seek execution on the judgment. The chancery court of Davidson County shall treat a person's failure to file a petition for review of an assessment as a confession of judgment in the amount of the assessment.

(c) A person who demanded, was shown, and reasonably relied upon proof of age is not liable for a civil penalty for a violation of § 39-17-1504 or § 39-17-1507. In the case of distribution of any tobacco or vapor product by mail, a person who obtained a statement from the addressee that the addressee is at least eighteen (18) years of age is not liable for a civil penalty so long as that distributor of the tobacco or vapor product informed the addressee that § 39-17-1504 prohibits the distribution of tobacco and vapor products to a person under eighteen (18) years of age.

(d) When assessing a civil penalty, the commissioner is authorized to assess the penalty against any person or persons determined by the commissioner to be responsible, in whole or in part, for contributing to or causing the violation to occur, including, but not limited to, the owner, manager or employee of a store at which any tobacco or vapor product is sold at retail, the owner, manager or employee of an establishment in which a vending machine selling tobacco products is located, and a company or any of its employees engaged in the business of sampling.

(e) (1) The owner or manager of a store that sells tobacco products at retail shall provide training to the store's employees concerning the provisions of this part. As a part of this training, each employee shall, prior to selling tobacco products at retail, sign a statement containing substantially the following words:

I understand that state law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to persons under eighteen (18) years of age and that state law requires me to obtain proof of age from a prospective purchaser of tobacco products who, based on appearance, might be as old as twenty-six (26) years of age. I promise to obey this law, and I understand that monetary or criminal penalties may be imposed on me if I violate this law.

(2) If the commissioner assesses a penalty against the store owner or manager, the owner or manager may present to the commissioner a copy of the statement described in subdivision (e)(1) that was signed by the employee who made the sale to a minor, along with a sworn statement by the owner or manager that the employee had signed the statement prior to the sale to the minor, and the name and address of the employee who made the sale. If the owner or manager does not know which employee made the sale to the minor, the owner or manager may present to the commissioner copies of the statements described in subdivision (e)(1) that were signed by all employees working at the store on the day the sale was made, along with a sworn statement that these employees had signed those statements prior to the sale to the minor.

(3) When the store owner or manager presents to the commissioner the statements described in subdivision (e)(2):

(A) If the violation is the second violation determined to have occurred at that store, the penalty against the store owner or manager shall be eliminated; or

(B) If the violation is the third or subsequent violation determined to have occurred at that store, the commissioner shall consider that evidence and any other evidence with respect to the amount of the penalty against the owner or manager.

(f) The department shall prepare annually for submission by the governor to the secretary of the United States department of health and human services the report required by Section 1926 of subpart I of Part B of Title XIX of the Public Health Service Act, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 300x-26. The department shall prepare for submission to the general assembly and the public an annual report describing in detail the department's enforcement efforts under this part.

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