NATIONAL REPORT — Lawmakers in two more states are considering putting an end to the sale of flavored tobacco products within their borders.
If the measures get signed into law, Connecticut and Maryland would follow the lead of Massachusetts and California. However, California's flavored tobacco ban is on hold as it prepares to appear before the voters in the November 2022 election, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
On Feb. 8, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong submitted testimony in support of state Senate Bill 326, An Act Prohibiting the Sale of Flavored Cigarettes, Tobacco Products, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Vapor Products.
"We can't wait any longer to protect the health of Connecticut residents, especially our kids. Connecticut can be a leader by ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products — including menthol cigarettes, and flavored e-cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco," Tong stated in his testimony. "Ending the sale of flavored tobacco products will have an enormous impact in reducing the number of people who die or suffer debilitating illness from tobacco use, significantly reducing the number of young people who become addicted to tobacco products, and reversing the youth e-cigarette epidemic."
In Maryland, state legislators are also reviewing a statewide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
Both proposals include menthol cigarettes.
According to WBAL, supporters of House Bill 134 argue the proposal will keep the products out of the hands of underage users. However, members of the House Economic Matters and Health and Government Operations committees questioned whether it goes too far.
The state House bill is expected to be amended, while the Maryland Senate is considering legislation that would only take menthol cigarettes and flavored vaping products out of convenience stores, the report added.
Massachusetts' ban on flavored tobacco products went into effect in June, and in the first six months the state has lost millions of dollars in excise tax revenue, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
Excise tax losses from menthol cigarettes continued to mount at a rate of more than $10 million per month since the legislation went into effect in June. The state's loss is neighboring New Hampshire's and Rhode Island's gain, according to the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association.
Other states could face the same dilemma. Kyle Feldman, vice president at National Convenience Distributors, told the Hartford Courant that banning the sale of menthol cigarettes from Connecticut will lead to thousands of employees losing their jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue for the state.
"The wholesale distribution industry understands the concern of banning the sale of flavored tobacco and vape products to the younger generations, but Connecticut already has a 21-year-old restriction for these products," Feldman said. "Our organization is only requesting a dismissal on the potential ban of menthol flavors to the adult market."