Long-Time NATO Executive Director Retires

Tom Briant helped found the tobacco retailer association more than two decades ago.
Tom Briant, executive director of National Association of Tobacco Outlets

MINNEAPOLIS — Tom Briant is stepping down from his position leading the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO).

On May 26, the association's board of directors announced that Briant is retiring as NATO executive director. He helped found NATO 23 years ago and has grown the association to be a leading voice in the tobacco industry.

"I want to express my sincere gratitude to all of those NATO members that I have worked with over the years and who supported the association since it was formed in 2001, and I look forward to seeking new challenges in the industry," Briant said.

Briant was a featured speaker on tobacco legislation and regulation at numerous industry events, including the Convenience Distribution Association's Convenience Distribution Marketplace and Tobacco Plus Expo, now known as Total Product Expo.

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The board has begun a search for a new executive director.

More than two decades ago NATO organized to enhance the common business interests of all tobacco retailers and to monitor and assist members in responding to tobacco-related legislation on the local, state and federal levels. Key to meeting its objectives, the association:

  • Takes a pro-active approach that informs and educates elected officials on the local, state and national levels about the impact that proposed tobacco-related legislation and regulations would have on tobacco retailers and the individual rights and the freedom of choice for adult customers served by tobacco retailers.
  • Informs NATO members about pending tobacco legislation and regulations through the NATO News weekly electronic bulletins and assist members in responding to local, state and federal legislation and regulations.

In 2019, NATO stepped up its efforts with two new initiatives: the National Response Network (NRN) and the National Local Advocacy Alliance (NLAA) website. The goal of NRN was to get retailers engaged, Briant said at the time.

The NLAA website tracks local ordinances, and NATO is in the process of updating the site to include ordinances dating back eight years. The site also features a "Take Action" page and talking points for retailers.

NATO currently has 66,000 members.