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Tackling Tobacco: November 2016 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.


Washington, D.C. — The public housing developments in the United States will now be required to provide a smoke-free environment for their residents. In an address to local public housing officials, residents and public health professionals in Boston, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro said HUD's new rule will provide resources and support to more than 3,100 Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to implement required smoke-free policies over the next 18 months. 

Throughout this year, HUD worked with PHAs and stakeholders collaboratively to finalize this rule, which prohibits lit tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars or pipes) in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings.


Deerfield — The Deerfield Board of Health passed regulation to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old. The change goes into effect Jan. 1. The board also voted to ban certain types of flavored tobacco products as of the first of the year. Several other towns in the area have enacted similar bans.  


Shoreview — The Shoreview City Council voted in favor of legislation to limit the sale of flavored tobacco products to tobacco-only stores. Local lawmakers worked for almost seven months with the North Suburban Tobacco Compliance Project/Ramsey Tobacco Council on potential ordinances intended to reduce youth access to tobacco products. Tobacco-only stores require customers to be at least 18 years old.


Canton — St. Lawrence County officials are considering raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21. The current minimum age stands at 18. Tobacco-21 was approved in New York City in 2013, followed by several counties including Schenectady, Albany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Cortland. If approved by legislators, St. Lawrence County would be the first in northern New York to adopt the higher legal buying age.

Goshen — Add Orange County to the list of New York counties that may tick up the legal minimum buying age to 21. In mid-November, two county legislative committees unanimously supported the proposal, sending the measure to the full legislature for a Dec. 1 vote. If passed and signed into law by County Executive Steve Neuhaus, the law would take effect June 1. Retailers would be subject to fines of as much as $1,500 if they sell cigarettes or other tobacco products to anyone under 21.

North Hempstead — Town officials voted to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco and nicotine delivery products, effectively prohibiting the sale to consumers under age 21. The change goes into effect March 1.  Retailers who sell tobacco to consumers under 21 face a minimum penalty of $300 and up to $1,000 for a first violation, and a fine of between $500 and $1,500 for each subsequent violation.

Syracuse — Health groups are advocating for Onondaga County to hike the tobacco purchasing age from 19 to 21. These groups include the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and the American Lung Association. The county's T-21 efforts started during the summer and the health groups have been promoting it. The movement has gathered 300 signatures of support.


Eugene — The Lane County Commission voted to draft an ordinance that would raise the minimum legal buying age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. The measure, the third such attempt by the county this year, will be presented for a formal vote in early 2017. If approved, Lane County would become the first in Oregon to increase the age to 21. 

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