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 Long Beach City Council unanimously approved a permanent ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. The prohibition includes menthol. The city's previous ban expired in January.
Enforcement of the ban will begin in three months, giving retailers time to sell their inventory. Exemptions include hookah products and lounges, pipe tobacco and some cigars.
Los Angeles — The Los Angeles City Council is considering a proposal to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, making an exception for some sales of hookah tobacco.
The ban would include menthol cigarettes, but creates an exception for existing, legally operated smokers' lounges that sell hookah tobacco. The council members voted in favor to ask city attorney to start drafting the measure.
Bridgeport — The Bridgeport City Council dropped a bid to prohibit flavored tobacco products. The decision came after state lawmakers failed to pass a statewide ban during the latest legislative session.
A local flavor ban, which the council took up earlier this year, would have made Bridgeport the first municipality in Connecticut to enact a ban.
Baton Rouge — Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the state's Tobacco 21 measure into law on June 16. State Rep. Buddy Mincey (R-71st District) authored the bill to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Columbia Heights — The Columbia Heights City Council approved an ordinance to prohibit in-store sampling of tobacco products. The law goes into effect in January. The measure also set the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products at 21, in line with state and federal regulations.
Olivia — The Renville County Board of Commissioners passed a measure setting new penalties for violating the Tobacco 21 law. Under the new ordinance, license holders would be fined $300 for a first offense; $600 for a second offense within 36 months; and $1,000 for a third offense within 36 months.
The new penalties bring the county ordinance in line with the state.
Spotsylvania — The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors voted 5-2 in favor of a 30-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes. The new levy is expected to bring in $310,000 in revenue annually. The cigarette tax went into effect July 1. The measure limits cigarette sales to only registered and licensed retail stores.
The board also voted to designate the county a member of the Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board, which will collect the taxes and handle enforcement.
The District of Columbia — By an 8-to-5 vote, the District of Columbia Council approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. The legislation now heads to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, who is expected to sign it into law. The measure exempts bars and restaurants that offer hookah.