Tackling Tobacco: February 2018 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

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Tackling Tobacco: February 2018 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

By Melissa Kress - 03/02/2018
Two stamps, regulations and rules

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.

ALABAMA

Montgomery — State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-101st District) has sponsored a bill to raise the state's legal age to buy tobacco products from 19 to 21. According to advocates, the initiative is aimed at increasing the age of purchase, use and possession of tobacco products. The proposed bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

CALIFORNIA

Oroville — The cost of obtaining a tobacco retail license will not be increasing. On Feb. 6, the City Council voted 6-1 against a proposal to hike the license fee from $36 to $38.64

IDAHO

Rexburg — The Rexburg City Council gave its final thumbs up to an ordinance that sets the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products at 21 years old. The rule does not make it illegal to possess or use tobacco products from 18 to 21. The new age limit foes into effect July 15.

ILLINOIS

Springfield — The Illinois Senate Public Health Committee voted 6-2 in early February to support increasing the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The current age is 18. Under the measure, underage possession would not be penalized.

A similar bill in the Illinois House of Representatives moved through the House Health & Healthcare Disparities Committee by a 3-1 vote.

MASSACHUSETTS

Woburn — The local Board of Health has voted in favor of increasing the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. It also voted to cap the number of local tobacco permits to 44, the current number.

MINNESOTA

Duluth — Buying flavored tobacco products at c-stores and grocery stores in the city will soon be a thing of the past. On Feb. 12, the Duluth City Council voted 7-2 to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products to adult-only tobacco shops. The change goes into effect 120 days after the vote.

Falcon Heights — The Falcon Heights City Council took up the issue of Tobacco 21 at its workshop meeting on Feb. 7. If the city does pass a measure increasing the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products, it would follow in the steps of several other Minnesota municipalities: Bloomington, Edina, Plymouth and St. Louis Park.

Mankato — Two measures to hike the legal tobacco buying age to 21 in neighboring municipalities were struck with one vote. On Feb. 12, the Mankato City Council voted 4-3 against a Tobacco 21 proposal. The move, in turn, nullified a recent vote by North Mankato's City Council to raise its legal minimum age to buy tobacco products. Legislators in North Mankato had voted in favor of the age increase a week earlier; however, that city's ordinance would only go into effect it Mankato approved a similar rule.

MISSISSIPPI

Jackson — A move to increase the state's cigarette excise tax has spurred five separate bills in the Mississippi State Legislature, all of which failed to pass before legislative deadlines. However, a bond bill, Senate Bill 3048, made the cut could be amended later to increase the tax. The final deadline for revenue bills is late March. The current levy stands at 68 cents per pack.

MONTANA

Missoula — The Missoula City Council sent back to committee changes to the town's Montana Clean Indoor Air Act. If the ordinance is passed, the use of electronic cigarettes would be prohibited indoors. However, discussions now swirl around whether vape shops should be excluded from the measure.

NEW MEXICO

Santa Fe — The state's Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee reached tie on a bill that sought to increase the state's cigarette excise tax by $1.50 per pack. The bill would have also expanded the definition of tobacco product to include electronic cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco. 

NEW YORK

White Plains — Lawmakers in Westchester County reintroduced a bill to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to consumers under 21 years old. The ban would follow similar rules in 10 other counties in New York. The measure is now in committee.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Mount Pleasant — Mount Pleasant moved one step closer to banning the use of vapor products in public places when local lawmakers voted unanimously in favor of the measure in early February. If the lawmakers give final approval in March, the ordinance would ban vaping in indoor workplaces.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Pierre — The South Dakota House State Affairs Committee voted 9-4 against increasing the state's cigarette excise tax by $1. In addition, members of the South Dakota House of Representatives rejected a bill that would have prohibited the sale of tobacco products to consumer under 21 years old.

TEXAS

Laredo — Tobacco 21 efforts have come to Laredo. City Councilmembers George Altgelt and Nelly Vielma have asked city staff members to research a potential measure to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. San Antonio is the only Texas municipality to have a Tobacco 21 rule on the books.