Tackling Tobacco: December 2023 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

Stiffer fines for tobacco retailers that are repeatedly caught selling to minors are on trend in Massachusetts and Ohio.
legislation spelled out in tiles

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.


Falmouth — Falmouth became the sixth Maine community to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products. The new rule will take effect in March 2024.


Deerfield — The penalty for selling tobacco to minors is much stiffer after the Deerfield Selectboard/Board of Health voted in mid-December to increase the town's fines to match the state regulations. The first incident is now met with a $1,000 fine; a second one incurs a $2,000 fine; and a third violation, as well as subsequent ones, brings a $5,000 fine. Each violation also involves a public hearing, whereby the board will hear details and impose a tobacco sale suspension.


Lansing — A package of bills in the Michigan Senate would end the sale of all flavored tobacco in the state, including e-cigarette, vapor products and menthol cigarettes.

Additionally, Gov, Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill modifying the state's cigar bar laws to provide that for one calendar year a cigar bar can qualify for an exemption to smoking restrictions if the owner/operator files an affidavit with the state and meets certain criteria.


St. Paul — The St. Paul City Council passed an ordinance that would eliminate tobacco vending machines, while also reducing the number of available tobacco shop licenses from 150 to 100. The decision came despite opposition from the National Association of Tobacco Outlets and the Minnesota Retailers Association. Mayor Melvin Carter is expected to sign the ordinance into law.  


Concord — A 2024 bill was introduced establishing a commission to study the enforcement and collection of taxes on electronic cigarettes.


Columbus — The Ohio House of Representatives voted in mid-December to override Gov. Mike DeWine's veto of a ban on communities banning flavored tobacco. Supporters of the veto said it's about protecting kids from flavored tobacco and vapor products; however, the opposing side is concerned about taking power away from communities on some issues and not others. It goes to the Ohio Senate next for a vote this month.

Additionally, the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee passed a bill that increases fines for tobacco retailers that are repeatedly caught selling tobacco and vapor products to minors and makes repeat offenders subject to public nuisance. The bill moved to the House floor awaiting a vote.


Harrisburg — A bill that had included language to increase the percentage for the presumed cost of doing business for the sale of cigarettes was amended to remove the percentage increases.

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