Tackling Tobacco: March 2018 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

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Tackling Tobacco: March 2018 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

By Melissa Kress - 03/30/2018
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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.


Chula Vista — Under new rules approved by the Chula Vista City Council, tobacco retailers must obtain a permit to sell tobacco products — including electronic cigarettes. The regulations also call for retailers to stop stocking tobacco products in self-service displays, and to ask for identification for buyers who look under 27 years old.


Basalt — The Basalt Town Council unanimously approved two pieces of tobacco regulation: increasing the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 and requiring retailers to obtain a license to sell tobacco products. Both regulations go into effect July 1. In addition, voters will head to the polls on April 3 to pull the levy for or against a $2-per-pack increase in the local cigarette tax, and levy equaling 40 percent of the wholesale price for other tobacco products.


Hartford — Legislators on the state's Public Health Committee approved a proposal to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old. The bill moves to the Senate for a vote. If approved, the proposed measure would go into effect Oct. 1; however, it would grandfather in any consumers who turn 18 before that date.


Gainesville — The Alachua County Health Care Advisory Board is recommending raising the legal minimum age to but tobacco products to 21. The board is also recommending that county leaders prohibit the sale of tobacco within a 1,000-foot buffer around schools, and require a county license to sell tobacco.


Aurora — The City Council unanimously passed Tobacco 21 legislation. Under the new rule, anyone under 21 years old purchasing or possessing tobacco products face fines starting at $100 and reaching $750 for multiple offenses.

ID Please

Four municipalities approved local Tobacco 21 ordinances in March:

  • Basalt, Colo.
  • Georgetown, Mass.
  • Aurora, Ill.
  • Wilmette, Ill.

Wilmette — The Village Board unanimously approved a move to increase the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The change affects more than a dozen businesses, including four convenience stores, two grocery stores, a liquor store and a tobacco shop. Thirteen other municipalities in Cook County have similar Tobacco 21 measures in place.


Lafayette — Members of the Lafayette City Council approved an ordinance to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes and vapor products in most public places. The new regulation does not include bars where all patrons are over 21 years old and that decide to allow smoking.


Georgetown — The local Board of Health voted in favor of setting 21 as the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products in the municipality. The new regulation goes into effect May 1. In related moves, the board banned the sale of tobacco products in all local pharmacies, the sale of blunt-wrapped cigars and non-residential tobacco rolling machines.


Minneapolis — The Minneapolis City Council's Public Health, Environment, Civil Rights and Engagement Committee has set May 14 as the date for public hearing on a proposed Tobacco 21 ordinance. If passed, the new age requirement would go into effect Aug. 1.


Albany — The Albany County Legislature held a public hearing on a proposal to ban tobacco sales in pharmacies. The county has 81 pharmacies, 41 percent which sell tobacco. The resolution heads back to the county health and law committees. If approved at the committee, the proposal will come up for a vote in April.

New City — Rockland County legislators voted in favor of a bill to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 on March 20. The measure was sent to County Executive Ed Day to either approve or veto the bill. The legal age in New York State remains at 18; however, several municipalities and counties have implemented the higher age.


Columbus — Local tobacco retailers will begin facing fines for violating the city's Tobacco 21 ordinance. The measure was enacted in 2017. In all, there are roughly 800 stores in Columbus selling tobacco products. First violation results in an advisory letter; a second violation results in a $500 fine; and subsequent violations result in a $1,000 fine.


Providence — Democrat legislators, Rep. Teresa Tanzi and Sen. Cynthia Coyne, introduced Tobacco 21 legislation in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate, respectively. Several municipalities across the state have already enacted similar measures.


Olympia — The Washington State Legislature closed its regular session on March 8 without taking action on several bills looking to increase the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products. The latest measure, H.B. 1054, was passed by the House of Representatives on March 7 and sent to the Senate. Now that the session has ended, the bill goes back to the House.


Charleston — State lawmakers failed to act on several tobacco-related bills before the end of the 2018 legislative session. The bills included proposed legislation to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21; and a bipartisan bill that would have banned smoking with anyone under the age of 16 in a vehicle.