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Tackling Tobacco: April 2024 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

A potential flavor ban in Vermont meets a roadblock in the governor's office.
Cigarettes in a shopping cart

NATIONAL REPORT — Tobacco legislation and regulation is constantly under review at the local, state and federal levels. In this monthly roundup, Convenience Store News highlights the latest proposals and approved changes happening across the United States.


Augusta — The Maine House of Representatives passed a bill giving initial approval to a ban on tobacco sales within 300 feet of a school, but after considering feedback regarding a longstanding small business that would be impacted, the Maine Senate voted unanimously in mid-April to change the bill to allow existing stores to continue tobacco sales, even if that store is sold to another owner. The bill is now back with the House. 

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Newton — A proposed ordinance aimed at eventually phasing out cigarette and tobacco sales in Newton would make it illegal to ever sell these products within city limits to anyone born after Jan. 1, 2004. The ordinance is modeled after the Brookline, Mass., bylaw that the state Supreme Judicial Court recently upheld. Those who are 21 years old or older by Dec. 31, 2024 would still be able to purchase tobacco products legally. The city's Programs and Services Committee continues to consider the proposal in light of feedback.


Minneapolis — The city is on track to have the highest government-mandated minimum price for cigarettes in the nation after the Minneapolis City Council approved a $15-per-pack floor, before taxes, in late April. The city has also set minimum prices for cigars, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco, while banning all discounts or coupons on tobacco products. The extra money is not considered a tax, but simply a mandatory minimum price; retailers will keep the extra money.


Columbus — Weeks before a new state law banning Ohio municipalities from regulating tobacco products was to go into effect, more than a dozen cities filed a lawsuit in early April, claiming the law violates the state constitution. The cities, including Columbus, Bexley, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dublin, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Heath, Hilliard, Oxford, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington, Whitehall and Worthington, are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the new law from going into effect.


Sugar Land — In April, the Sugarland City Council passed a ban on any new tobacco/vape shop opening within city limits. Existing shops that operate within the law will be allowed to remain open, but no new shops that primarily sell tobacco or vaping products will be permitted. The change went into effect immediately.


Montpelier — Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the state legislature's ban on flavored tobacco which would have included flavored vapes, nicotine pouches, menthol cigarettes and all other forms of flavored tobacco and nicotine products. According to Scott, the bill was hypocritical and inconsistent with other things the state has legalized lately, including marijuana, and how the state markets flavored alcohol. The governor said adults should have the freedom to choose what they want to do, adding that he would like to see the attorney general and other authorities get more aggressive about online and underage tobacco sales.

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