Tackling Tobacco: December 2017 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup
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.
Tallahassee — State Sen. David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) sponsored legislation to raise the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. Under the measure, retailers found in violation would face a fine up to $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for a second offense. Underage consumers found in violation face 20 hours of community service for the first offense and 40 hours for the second. The state legislature will consider the legislation when it meets on Jan. 9.
Topeka — Another municipality has joined the Tobacco 21 movement. On Dec. 5, the Topeka City Council voted 8 to 2 to approve a proposal to ban the sale or furnishing of tobacco products to anyone under 21. Commissioners in Shawnee County, where Topeka is located, approved a similar measure covering the county’s unincorporated areas in August.
Robbinsdale — The City Council approved an ordinance to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products to tobacco stores, making Robbinsdale the fifth Minnesota municipality to pass a law regulating flavored tobacco. The measure also set a minimum price for flavored cigars: $2.40 per cigar and $10.40 for packs of four cigars or more.
Syracuse — The Onondaga County legislature raised the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21. The new law took effect Jan. 1.
Dublin — Elected officials unanimously voted in favor of increasing the age to buy tobacco and nicotine products to 21. The Dublin City Council made the move on Dec. 4 and also said it will contract with the Franklin County Public Health by the beginning of the year to administer the licensing system for retailers.
Civil penalties for retailers caught selling to those under 21 range from $250 to $500, and licenses could be suspended or revoked. The age change could become effective March 1, although enforcing the penalty for retailers selling without a license would be delayed until May 1.
Burlington — The City Council voted 9 to 3 in favor of placing a question about increasing the raise of the legal age to buy tobacco on the Town Meeting Day ballot. With the move, voters will decide if they want to recommend the state legislature raise the age from 18 to 21.
On the state level, a similar bill passed the House in 2016 but failed in the Senate's last session.
Spokane — The board of the Spokane Regional Health District is throwing its support behind Tobacco 21 efforts in the state. The panel unanimously approved a resolution in early December urging the state legislature to increase the minimum legal age to buy cigarettes, vape products and other tobacco products. A similar measure has failed at the state level for the past three years.
Cheyenne — The Joint Revenue Interim Committee of the Wyoming State Legislature have approved a tobacco-tax measure, sending them to the full budget session set for February. The panel voted 8 to 6 in favor of a draft bill to hike the state cigarette excise tax 60 cents to $1.60.