Tackling Tobacco: May 2017 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

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Tackling Tobacco: May 2017 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

By Melissa Kress, Convenience Store News - 05/30/2017

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.


Aspen — The city is moving closer to becoming the first in Colorado to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old. The City Council voted 4-0 in favor of a Tobacco 21 ordinance on first reading. A second and final hearing is slated for June. If approved, the new law would take effect Jan. 1.


Geneva — The Kane County Health Department is urging municipalities to adopt Tobacco 21 efforts. The department has joined with 12 other counties in Illinois on a campaign to push raising the legal minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21. Similar efforts failed at the state level.


Boston — Massachusetts lawmakers are once again considering increasing the state's minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21. More than 140 municipalities across the state have already passed similar measures. Tobacco 21 efforts failed at the state level in 2016.

Pittsfield — A petition has been filed to ease the regulations for tobacco retailer certifications. Under current requirements, the city requires tobacco retailers to follow the Tri-Town Health Department’s certification program, which calls for retailers — including convenience store clerks — to take a $25 certification test every three years.

However, a petition by one local gas station manager recommends that clerks who pass the process three consecutive times without a violation should receive a lifetime certification.

The petition was referred to the Tri-Town Health director.


Flint — The Genesee County Board of Commissioners has delayed enforcement of Tobacco 21 legislation in response to a lawsuit by RPF Oil Co. The legal challenge alleges the county is in violation of the state's majority act, which ensures anyone 18 years old must be treated the same as anyone 21 years old.


Colombia — The Columbia City Council is reviewing a recommendation from the Columbia-Boone County Board of Health and Human Services to require all tobacco retailers to obtain a tobacco retail license. Council members also accepted an offer from Stephanie Browning, director of Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, to work with City Counselor Nancy Thompson to explore the best ways to implement an ordinance.

There was no set timeline for draft ordinances. If the council decides to move forward, it would have to seek voter approval of any proposal that includes fees or taxes. Fees associated with the license would be used to help enforce the city's Tobacco 21 legislation through two compliance checks a year per retail location.  

The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association recommended a statewide approach in a letter to the Board of Health. The state already prohibits sale to minors and issues citations. 

Excelsior Springs — The City Council approved a measure to hike the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The new legislation also includes nicotine deliver products. The increase was approved unanimously by the five-member council.


Albany — The New York State Assembly has supported a proposal to add electronic cigarettes to the state's public smoking ban. The debate now moves to the state Senate.


Bismarck — The North Dakota State Legislature defunded the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy and rolled tobacco settlement money into the North Dakota Department of Health budget, effective July 1.

According to state Sen. Ray Holmberg, (R-Grand Forks), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said after looking at the administrative costs of operating the tobacco prevention programs, it would be better situated within the health department.

A new statewide tobacco prevention and control plan must be completed by July 31.


Klamath Falls — The Klamath County commissioners approved an ordinance requiring tobacco retailers to obtain a tobacco retailing license. The move will allow the county to penalize retailers who sell to minors by limiting or revoking their ability to sell tobacco products.

The legislation requires retailers to apply for a license beginning Jan. 1 with annual renewals. The commissioners have yet to set a fee but a $275 proposal is under review.