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Tackling Tobacco: May 2024 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

Stricter retail licenses at the local level are gaining traction in states including Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio.
Tobacco and cigarettes with 100 dollar bills

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.


Hartford — Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill into law that requires online prevention education for electronic nicotine delivery system dealer registration (for a new applicant or a renewal). Effective Oct. 1, it requires that at least one authorized owner or named designee to complete the education program.


Normal — The Normal Town Council unanimously approved a new ordinance that would require tobacco stores to apply for licenses, managed by the town clerk's office. Tobacco shops will now have to be 1,500 feet away from each other, and 200 feet away from daycares and schools. It does not apply to gas stations, or places that have less than 15% of their display devoted to tobacco products.

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Iowa City — The Iowa City Council approved a temporary suspension of new tobacco retail permits that began in June. Now, new businesses wanting a permit to sell vapes and nicotine products will have to wait until at least January. The council will decide next steps after the moratorium expires in January. At that time, it could set a cap on the number of retail permits it issues and/or require smoke shops to be a certain distance from schools and retail outlets.


Baton Rouge — A bill that would have exempted nicotine pouch products from the vapor product directory failed in the Louisiana State Senate. It is eligible for reconsideration.


Lansing — Pending bills may allow Michigan counties to tighten tobacco legislation (i.e. banning all sales of flavored tobacco products, require tobacco retailers to be licensed, and tax e-cigarettes and vapes containing nicotine). These state Senate bills in the Regulatory Affairs Committee would also repeal ineffective penalties that punish youth for possessing tobacco products.


Minneapolis — Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill into law that expands the definition of moist snuff for tax purposes to include a "similar product containing nicotine." The change goes into effect July 1.  


Columbus — A Franklin County judge has sided with Columbus and a coalition of other cities, ruling unconstitutional a state law that would strip away the rights of cities to regulate the sale of tobacco products at the local level. The judge enjoined the law, meaning Columbus' local tobacco regulations including licensure for local tobacco retailers and the city's ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, as well as any local regulations in other cities who joined the lawsuit — remain in effect. The state can appeal the ruling.

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