Tackling Tobacco: January 2021 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.
Manhattan Beach — The city's ban on the sale of tobacco products went effect on Jan. 1. However, less than a week later the Manhattan City Council granted permission to four retailers to continue to sell tobacco for a temporary period of time. Three were given a June 30, 2021 deadline, and the fourth was given a Dec. 31, 2021 deadline. The Manhattan City Council approved the ban in February 2020, but allowed a temporary reprieve for retailers who faced hardship because of the legislation.
Stuart — Stuart city commissioners approved an ordinance raising the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The new rule goes into effect immediately. Fines for businesses violating the Tobacco 21 law range from $250 for the first offense to 1,000 for the third offense. Martin County approved a Tobacco 21 rule in November, and it goes into effect on Feb. 1.
Annapolis — State lawmakers introduced legislation to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products in Maryland. The proposed legislation, House Bill 134 and Senate Bill 177, would include menthol. The Senate Finance Committee scheduled a hearing on proposal for Jan. 28 and the House Economic Matters hearing will take public comment on Feb. 10.
Bismarck — The North Dakota State Senate approved increasing the legal minimum tobacco buying age in the state to 21, in line with federal guidelines. By a 40-to-7 vote, the senators agreed to change the word "minors" to "21 year olds" in the state's statute. The state House of Representatives need to approve the change before its heads to Gov. Doug Burgum's desk.
Salem — The new year brought a hike in the state's tobacco taxes. As of Jan. 1, the state's cigarette excise levy jumped from $1.33 a pack to $3.33 a pack — a $2 increase. Cigars are now taxed $1, and electronic cigarettes and vapor products are taxed at a rate of 65 percent on the wholesale purchase price. Also effective Jan. 1, the state's definition of a cigarette changed to include little cigars.
Nashville — The state's Tobacco 21 law went into effect on Jan. 1. In addition to raising the legal tobacco buying age, the legislation clarifies that law enforcement can now use people under 21 in sting operations involving sales of smoking products, specifies vapor products as smoking paraphernalia, and increases from 27 to 30 the apparent age of a person below which a seller must demand proof of age before selling them such products.