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.
Long Beach — The city's temporary ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco went into effect on July 2. The Long Beach City Council adopted a temporary ordinance on Jan. 4, with an implementation date of July 2, prohibiting the sale or distribution of certain flavored tobacco products within the city limits. This prohibition includes: flavored cigarillos; flavored electronic smoking devices (such as electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic pipes, electronic hookahs, vapes, vaporizers, and vape pens); flavored electronic smoking device fluid, including nicotine and non-nicotine products; and menthol cigarettes.
If an establishment is found to be in violation of the ordinance the owner may be subject to the following fines: $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation, and $500 for a third violation and for each subsequent violation within one year.
The ban remains in place until Jan. 3, 2021, unless the council votes to extend it.
Hayward — The Hayward City Council approved a measure on first reading to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including vapor products. The ordinance would also prohibit the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies and drug stores.
The council needs to hold a final vote on the proposed legislation.
Denver — Gov. Jared Polis officially increased the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. Polis signed the Tobacco 21 measure into law on July 14, a month after the state legislature approved.
Polis also signed legislature bringing a proposal to raise the state's tobacco taxes to the voters this fall. The proposal would tax premium cigars at 50 percent of wholesale price beginning on Jan. 1, 2021, then to 56 percent in on Jan. 1, 2024, and 62 percent on Jan. 1, 2027. As for cigarettes, the proposal would set a new minimum $7 price pack and increase levy to $1.94 per pack beginning on Jan. 1, 2021, then to $2.24 per pack in 2024, and $2.64 in 2027. It would raise the minimum price for a pack to $7.50 on July 1, 2024 and impose an inventory tax that corresponds to each tax increase beginning on Jan. 1, 2022.
The ballot measure would also create a tax on electronic cigarettes, vapor products and other non-tobacco nicotine products. If approved, the tax would be 50 percent of the wholesale price beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
Des Moines — Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Tobacco 21 legislation into law in early July. Her signature brings the state's legal minimum age to buy tobacco products in line with the new federal rule.
Jackson — Both chambers of the Mississippi state legislature approved raising the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The legislation sets a $100 fine and 15 hours of community, for the first offense, for anyone under 21 possessing tobacco. It also sets a fine of up to $1,000 and possible jail time, for the first offense, for anyone who provides minors with alcoholic beverages or tobacco products.
The legislation was sent to Gov. Tate Reeves for his signature.
Albany — The state's ban on discounts on tobacco products went into effect on July 1. The ban, which was part of the state's 2021 fiscal year budget, includes coupons and multi-pack price promotions. A ban on shipping and/or delivering electronic cigarettes and vapor products to private homes also took effect on July 1.
Salem — Voters will decide the fate of a tobacco tax increase in this November's election. The ballot measure calls for increasing the state's cigarette excise tax $2 from its current $1.33 rate. The measure also calls for a 65-percent tax on vapor products. If approved, it would be the state's first levy on electronic cigarettes and vapor products.