Tackling Tobacco: December 2020 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.
San Diego — San Diego County Supervisors approved a tobacco retail licensing program (TRL) for the unincorporated area of the county. The TRL will cap the number of establishments that can sell tobacco products in the unincorporated area to 330 businesses. In addition to prohibiting the in-person sale of tobacco and flavored tobacco products to those under 21, the ordinance will ban the placement of tobacco vending machines in the unincorporated area of the county. Businesses that have onsite pharmacies will no longer be allowed to sell tobacco products.
The TRL will be transferable among immediate family members, as long as the business location does not change. The new owner will also have to meet the age requirement for selling tobacco products, meaning a TRL will not be transferable to anyone under the age of 21. The board action also states sales clerks who are under the age of 18 will be allowed to sell tobacco products to those of legal age, as long as the clerk is under continuous supervision by someone 21 or older.
The new regulations will go into effect in July 2021.
Loveland — The Loveland City Council postponed a vote on a proposed ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. After hours of debate and public comment at its Dec. 8 meeting, the council members voted 6-2 to push the issue to its Feb. 16 meeting. The delay will give the council time to reach out to local businesses about the proposed ban.
New Ulm — Brown County Commissioners voted in favor of a Tobacco 21 measure, raising the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. Approval of the ordinance allows the county to have some control over fines and get a portion of any fines levied.
Jefferson City — The Missouri State Legislature will take up a proposal when the new 2021 legislative session starts in January that would let municipalities increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. State Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) pre-filed the bill, HB 266, in early December. Specifically, the bill will repeal existing language that prohibits counties cities, towns, villages, municipalities or other political subdivisions from charging a tax rate on any tobacco products.
Albany — A coalition of public health groups, civic organizations and hospitals joined forces in urging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase the tax on tobacco products and to use the revenue to provide much needed support for public health programs, including programs to help smokers quit.
In a letter sent to Cuomo, the groups called for an increase in the cigarette tax of at least $1 per pack in the FY 2021-2022 Executive Budget, and to ensure the budget provides a parallel tax on all other tobacco products including electronic cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco products.