Tackling Tobacco: March 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.
Little Rock — The state Senate voted 18-14 on a proposal to increase the state's cigarette levy by 20 percent, or approximately 80 cents a pack, and impose a 68 percent tax on electronic cigarettes. The additional tax revenue is earmarked to pay for an income tax credit and tax cut for low-income residents and an increase in the standard deduction. The proposal was sent to the state House of Representatives.
Hartford — The state House of Representatives' Public Health Committee advanced a bill raising the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The measure then moved to the House floor.
Southington — The Southington Town Council adopted a Tobacco 21 ordinance with an 8-1 vote. The legislation makes the town the fourth municipality in Connecticut to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21.
Dover — The Delaware state Senate voted 14-6 in favor of a Tobacco 21 measure. Retailers who sell tobacco products to anyone under 18 would face criminal fines ranging from $250 to $1,000; however, retailers would only face a civil penalty for selling to anyone 18 to 20 years old. The proposal, which is backed by Gov. John Carney, moved to the House of Representatives.
Tallahassee — Members of the state Senate Health Policy Committee voted in support of a proposal to increase Florida's legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The legislation also bans the sale of tobacco and vaping products in vending machines and substitutes non-criminal fines for criminal penalties for those who sell or provide these products to underage users. The legislation now moves through other Senate committees.
Springfield — Legislation prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 landed on Gov. J.B. Pritzker's desk in mid-March. The measure to hike the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 was by lawmakers in both the Illinois Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives.
Columbus — Gov. Mike DeWine included a proposal to increase the legal minimum age to but tobacco products from 18 to 21. The proposal is part of a health policy initiative in his 2020-2021 budget recommendations.
Oklahoma City — The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 94-1 to add electronic cigarettes and marijuana to the state's Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act. With the vote, the proposal moved to the state Senate.
Austin — The Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs held a hearing on a Tobacco 21 measure. Senate Bill 21 was introduced by State Affairs Chair Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston). The bill has bipartisan support in the Senate. State Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond) introduced a similar proposal in the state House of Representatives earlier this year. It is currently pending in the House Public Health Committee.
Salt Lake City — Elected officials in the state House of Representatives approved a proposal to levy an 86-percent tax on electronic cigarettes. State Rep. Paul Ray (R-District 13) said the tax would generate more than $23 million in revenue. The vote sent the measure to the state Senate.
Charleston — The West Virginia House of Health and Human Resources Committee turned down proposed legislation that would have increased the state's legal age for using tobacco products and prohibited smoking in a vehicle with a minor present.
Appleton — The Appleton City Council voted to add public vaping to its existing smoking ban. The council also voted to exempt vape shops from the ban.