Tackling Tobacco: June 2020 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.
El Monte — The El Monte City Council took a step toward banning the sale of flavored tobacco products when it passed an ordinance that would prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco and nicotine products, including menthol, on first reading.
Denver — State lawmakers in both legislative houses approve a bid to place a tobacco tax increase on the ballot in November. Under the proposal, all tobacco products will be subject to a progressively increasing tax. The cigarette tax rate of 84 cents per pack would increase to $1.94 as of Jan. 1, 2021, to $2.24 per pack in 2024, and $2.64 in 2027. The proposal would also set a $7 minimum price per pack, which would increase to $7.50 on July 1, 2024, and impose an inventory tax that corresponds to each tax increase beginning on Jan. 1, 2022. Premium cigars' tax rate of 40 percent of the wholesale price would increase to 50 percent on Jan. 1, 2021, to 56 percent in on Jan. 1, 2024, and 62 percent on Jan. 1, 2027.
The proposal would also establish a tax on non-tobacco nicotine products, including as electronic cigarettes and vapor products.
The Colorado House of Representatives passed the proposal on June 11, and the state Senate followed on June 15. Gov. Jared Polis needs to sign the bill.
Atlanta — The Georgia Senate voted to levy a tax of up to 7 percent on vapor products and increase the legal tobacco buying age to 21. The Senate's vote came days after the state House of Representatives also approved the moves.
A proposal to hike the state's cigarette excise tax to $1.35 per pack dies. The current levy of 37 cents per pack, the third lowest in the country, remains in place.
Palatine — The Village Council approved a Tobacco 21 ordinance. The measure prohibits anyone under 21 from buying tobacco products, as well as possessing tobacco products. The local police can issue local ordinance tickets to violators when the ordinance goes into effect on Aug. 1.
Wichita — The Wichita City Council voted to up the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The vote brings the city rule into line with the new federal age.
Lansing — The Michigan Senate approved legislation to control the sale of electronic cigarettes across the state and increase the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. In addition to the Tobacco 21 measure, other bills would regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, tax vapor products at 18 percent of the wholesale price, establish a state license for all businesses and sales staff selling vapor products, establish advertising restrictions for the sale of vapor products, and require electronic age verification for the sale of vapor products.
The Michigan House of Representatives will now consider the bill.
Edina — The Edina City Council voted unanimously to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol. The June 16 vote made the city the 16th in the state to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco and the 11th to prohibit the sale of menthol.
White Bear — The White Bear Township Board voted unanimously to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The June 15 vote brings the township's rule into line with the federal tobacco buying age.
Helena — On June 16, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services filed a proposed rule notice to eliminate the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in response to the epidemic of youth e-cigarette product use in the state. The proposed rule would eliminate the selling, offering for sale, marketing, advertising or otherwise distributing flavored electronic smoking products that target Montana youth.
A public hearing will be held via remote conferencing to consider the proposed rules on July 16.
Bethlehem — Members of the Town Board approved a six-month moratorium on the approval of any new vape or smoke shops. During that time, officials will establish a licensing system to sell tobacco and vapor products, as well as set the cost of the permit. New regulations also ban vape shops from opening within 1,000 feet from a school.
Richmond — Several new tobacco taxes go into effect across the state on July 1. Starting next month, the state levy on cigarette and other tobacco products. With the change, the state excise tax increases from 30 cents to 60 cents on a pack of cigarettes. In addition, the state is implementing a 6.6 cents per milliliter tax on the sale of liquid nicotine products.