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.
Decatur — In a 4-1 vote, the Decatur City Council voted to ban the use of electronic cigarettes and vapor products inside public places. The ban includes areas within 10 feet of the entrances of public businesses. The city banned the use of cigarettes and cigars inside public places in 2007.
Bridgeport — City officials voted 16-1 to increase the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The move makes Bridgeport the second municipality in Connecticut to pass Tobacco 21 legislation, following a similar vote by Hartford officials in October.
Gainesville — Alachua County lawmakers voted unanimously adopting legislation to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. In addition, tobacco retailers will have to apply for a one-year license to sell tobacco products and they are prohibited from selling them within 1,000 feet of a public school.
Alachua County becomes the first county in Florida to increase the legal age. Each city within the county has time to opt out of the ordinance, which will take effect in nine months.
Arlington Heights — Members of the Village Board voted 8-0 to raise the legal minimum age of tobacco products to 21. Passed on Jan. 7, the ordinance went into effect in 10 days but enforcement will begin 30 days after adoption.
Lansing — A Tobacco 21 bill was introduced into the Michigan House of Representatives. In addition to hiking the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products and paraphernalia to 21 across the states, the proposal would also repeal language concerning the possession of tobacco products by minors.
Those who sell tobacco to anyone under 21 would face a fine of no less than $1,000 for the first offense, and a maximum of $5,000 for a second offense within two years. It also provides a provision that local municipalities may enact their own rules regarding tobacco sales that are stricter than those set at the state level.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by seven legislators from both sides of the aisle, is currently with the state's House Committee on Regulatory Reform.
Bemidji — The Beltrami County Board approved a motion to increase the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 by a 4-1 vote. The board will discuss the timeline and implementation of the ordinance at its Feb. 5 meeting.
Duluth — The Duluth City Council adopted a Tobacco 21 measure in a 6-2 vote on Jan. 28. The higher legal minimum age to buy tobacco products goes into effect in 120 days.
Minneapolis — Lawmakers in the Minnesota State Legislature will consider a statewide Tobacco 21 bill. State Rep. Heather Edelson (D-Edina) authored the proposal, and six other legislators have joined as co-sponsors.
The bill would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21, prohibit anyone under 21 from entering a retail tobacco shop, increase fines for selling tobacco products to anyone under 21, and would add charter schools to the ban of tobacco in schools. The legal minimum age to possess tobacco products would remain 18.
The bill is in the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee for its first hearing.
Concord — State Sen. Harold F. French (R-Franklin) proposed a bill that would prevent municipalities from raising the age to buy any product above the limit set by the state. The legal minimum age to buy tobacco products in New Hampshire is 18.
The proposal comes a month after city of Keene lawmakers approved an ordinance to increase the legal age to buy, use and possess tobacco products to 21. Dover became the first New Hampshire municipality to implement a Tobacco 21 law in July.
Tyler — The Tyler City Council voted to add electronic cigarettes to its 2008 ordinance prohibiting the use of tobacco products in public places.
Montpelier — State Rep. George Till (D-Jericho) introduced a bill that would prohibit the online sale of electronic cigarettes or e-liquids. It was referred to the House Committee on Human Services.
Specifically, the bill would prohibit "anyone from selling electronic cigarettes, liquids containing nicotine or otherwise intended for use with an electronic cigarette or tobacco paraphernalia in Vermont unless that person is a licensed wholesale dealer or purchased the items from a licensed wholesale dealer. It would also prohibit shipping these items to anyone in Vermont other than a licensed wholesale dealer or retailer."
Richmond — A bill to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 is heading to the Virginia House of Delegates after the state Senate voted 32-8 to pass SB 1727. Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) introduced the legislation.