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.
Tucson — Tucson may become the next municipality in Arizona to join Tobacco 21. On Aug. 8, the Tucson City Council voted unanimously to direct staff to draft an ordinance that would increase the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Sausalito — The Sausalito City Council passed a new law prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products. The measure also requires businesses to obtain a license to sell tobacco products. The license costs $50.
Avon — The Avon Town Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that will increase the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The ordinance will also establish a licensing system for tobacco retailers which would give the town more authority in enforcing the new age law.
By requiring a license for tobacco retailers the town will forfeit revenues from the state on tobacco sales. However, the town can recoup some of the lost revenue by implementing an additional cigarette tax — a decision that will be decided by voters in November.
The move will also require the town to create a licensing administrator position. The $500 annual license fee is expected to cover the cost of the program.
Wilbraham — The Wilbraham Board of Selectmen approved a package of tobacco regulations, which will go into effect Dec. 30.
The regulations include increasing the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21, including electronic cigarettes and vapor products; banning the sale of flavored tobacco products and blunt wraps; banning the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies, healthcare and educational institutions, and public places; capping the number of tobacco sales permits issued in the town to 14.
Fergus Falls — The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners is considering banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old. The commissioners held a second public hearing on the Tobacco 21 measure on Aug. 27 and accepted written comments through Aug. 31.
Helena — Secretary of State Corey Stapleton certified Initiative 185 for the ballot in November. If approved by voters, the initiative would raise the state excise tax on cigarettes by $2 a pack and other tobacco products by 67 percent. The state would use the revenue to expand the state's Medicaid program.
Albany — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation prohibiting individuals from smoking in facilities that provide child care services, including private homes.
"The dangers of secondhand smoke are indisputable and we must do everything in our power to protect children from this public health hazard and the life-long misery that comes with it," Cuomo said. "This measure will bring us one step closer to a strong healthier New York for all."
All facilities required to be licensed or registered for child care services must comply with the smoking ban within 90 days, even when children receiving care are not present.
Elizabethtown — The Essex County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on a move to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The board could adopt the measure at its regular meeting on Sept. 4. To date, 13 counties in New York have approved Tobacco 21 legislation.
Newark — The Newark City Council added electronic cigarettes to its existing smoking ban. With the unanimous approval, adult users can't use e-cigarettes in enclosed public places and any place where the smoke can enter an enclosed space through an entrance, like a window or door.
Under the ordinance, e-cigarettes will not be regulated in private residences, unless they are used as a licensed child-care or healthcare facility; hotel and motel rooms designated as smoking rooms, family-owned and –operated business where employees are related to the owner; outdoor patios; retail tobacco stores already in operation, and drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation centers.
Pierre — South Dakota's Initiated Measure 25 heads to the voters this November. Included in the $35-million tax measure is a move to increase the state excise tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack, and increase the tax on smokeless and other tobacco products by 57 percent.