A bill to prohibit the sale of betel nut to anyone under the age of 18 passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
House Bill 19-65 prohibits the sale of betel nut to minors. The bill says no person can sell betel nut to one with first demanding present valid identification of name, photograph, sex, and date of birth.
The bill also details maximum fines up to $400 for those caught selling betel nut to a minor.
“Over the years betel nut chewing has become a significant public health problem. Oral cancer is alarmingly increasing within our society and sadly most cases result in death of its aggressive nature. Thus, the Legislature finds the need to develop policies to protect our youth from the danger of developing oral cancer,” the bill states.
The bill passed the House unanimously on Tuesday.
During discussion on the floor, Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan) cited figures showing that more than 30 percent of local high school and middle school kids chew betel nut.
Ogumoro, who is also House chair on the health, education, and welfare committee, said “something has got to be done,” or the CNMI would end up with population of youth that are not healthy.
H.B. 19-65 was introduced by Rep. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan).