Miami-Dade County

Crime Watch: New law will crack down on charity scams

Today I am giving you an update on two issues I have written about in the past e-cigarettes and scam charities.

Dear Carmen,

Recently, I told you about new legislation proposed by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam that was being considered that would crack down on charitable scams in South Florida and around the state. I am excited to let you know that this bill passed the Florida Senate and House of Representatives and has now been signed by Gov. Rick Scott to become law.

The new law prohibits felons from soliciting funds in the name of charity and bans charities that have violated certain laws in other states from trying their scams on Floridians.

It also increases reporting requirements for charities that receive more than $1 million per year but spend less than 25 percent on their cause. These charities will be required to disclose financial transactions between board members and their family members, fund-raising expenses and travel expenses. Furthermore, this law increases transparency among charitable organizations so that Floridians can make better-informed choices about which organizations deserve their support.

Armed with additional information on charitable activities and expenses, Floridians will be able to distinguish the charities that do good from the organizations that mislead and deceive.

Ivonne Perez-Suarez, Consumer Advocate, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

And this is from Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan:

Due to raised concerns about the safety, health and environmental effects of electronic cigarettes and other nicotine dispensing devices, also known as e-cigarettes, the Miami Dade County Commission passed an ordinance on June 3, 2014, sponsored by Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan, prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes and other nicotine dispensing devices to minors.

The ordinance prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes and other nicotine dispensing devices to minors and also prohibits self-service merchandising accessible to minors. Any vendor found in violation will be subject to a $500 fine. Fines for possession or purchase by minors are subject to a $25 fine for the first offense, $50 for the second offense and $100 for each subsequent offense.

The popularity of e-cigarette’s has steadily grown since 2008 with consumers led to believe that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes, despite the fact that most devices contain nicotine and have the potential to be addictive. Concerns have also been raised as to the safety, health and environmental effects of the vapor emitted from e-cigarettes, both to the user and individuals in close proximity inhaling the vapor.

In addition, there is no regulatory oversight ensuring the safety of the ingredients in electronic cigarettes. However, the National Association of Attorneys General issued an urging, signed by 42 attorneys general, to the Commissioner of the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to immediately regulate the sale and advertising of electronic cigarettes.

In closing, I want to thank the Miami Heat for a superlative year of playing, but also for their commitment to this community thru their many efforts. They truly have been Knights in Shining armor for many of our youth. You might not have won, but you have won the hearts of many through your kindness. Go Heat Next Year!