Tackling Tobacco: July 2019 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.
Livermore — The Livermore City Council unanimously approved legislation banning the sale of electronic cigarettes in retail stores. The legislation also sets a tobacco licensing program for retailers and prohibits stores from selling the nicotine refills that go into e-cigarettes. In addition, it prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products. Premium cigars are exempt from the ban on flavored tobacco.
It also bans the sale of tobacco products within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, libraries and day care centers. The new policies go into effect Jan. 1.
Ventura — City officials have directed the city council staff to prepare an ordinance that would prohibit retailers from selling flavored tobacco products. The measure would also prohibit new tobacco retail licenses within 1,000 feet of a school and establish an annual tobacco retail licensing fee. The draft ordinance is expected to be presented to the council early next year.
Carmel — The Carmel City Council voted unanimously to add electronic cigarettes to the municipality's ban on smoking in most public places. The ordinance sets fines up to $50 for the first violation and up to $500 for more violations in the same year.
Augusta — Gov. Janet Mills signed legislation setting the state excise tax on tobacco products at 43 percent of the wholesale sales price. The levy applies to products like pipe tobacco, cigars, and electronic cigarettes and vapor products. The law also sets aside more than $7 million for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
Boston — State Rep. Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough) and State Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy) are lead sponsors of legislation to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products across the state. If approved, Massachusetts would become the first to enact a ban statewide.
Minneapolis — Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved legislation to increase the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 in several cities within the county. The measure also restricts the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, to adult-only tobacco stores and sets a minimum price of $3 for cigars.
The ordinance will affect areas where Hennepin County is responsible for licensing and regulating retail tobacco sales including Greenfield, Mound, Rockford, Rogers, St. Bonifacius and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1.
Springfield — A Tobacco 21 ordinance prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 went into effect on July 16. The initial focus on the Springfield-Greene County Health Department will be educating retailers and the public on the new requirements, not immediate enforcement. Its goal is to provide adequate time to educate and create awareness around the new ordinance before any tickets are issued, according to the department.
Montpelier — The state's 92-percent tax on electronic cigarettes went into effect on July 1. Two additional pieces of tobacco legislation also went into effect on that date: a measure increasing the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 and a measure restricting retail and internet sales of "tobacco products, tobacco substitutes, substances containing nicotine or otherwise intended for use with a tobacco substitute, or tobacco paraphernalia" unless the vendor is a licensed wholesale dealer or has purchased the products from a licensed wholesale dealer.