Tackling Tobacco: October 2018 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.
Harrison — The legal minimum age to buy tobacco products in the municipality will rise to 21 on Jan. 1. The Harrison City Council voted in favor of the Tobacco 21 measure in early October.
Hartford — With a unanimous vote, the Hartford City Council made the city the first in Connecticut to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The ordinance takes effect immediately, though enforcement will not begin until April.
Violators face a $250 fine for each violation, and offenders could face a suspension of their tobacco licenses. The Hartford Health and Human Services Department is responsible for performing at least two unannounced checks per retailer each year.
Miami Beach — The Miami Beach City Council approved restrictive measures on electronic cigarettes. Council members approved a measure to levy enhanced penalties for establishments that sell nicotine vaporizers and liquid nicotine to minors.
In addition, they voted in favor of a measure to prohibit the possession of these items by minors and regulate the retailers who are in possession of nicotine vaporizers or liquid nicotine for the purposes of selling the products to consumers, individuals or the public.
Barrington — The Barrington Village Board cast votes in favor of upping the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products — including vapor products — from 18 to 21. The new law, which goes into effect in November, does not apply to possession by anyone under 21.
Haverhill — Add another Massachusetts municipality to the Tobacco 21 list. The Haverhill Board of Health passed a set of new regulations that includes increasing the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21.
The new regulations also include a limit on the number of locations where tobacco products can be sold; a limit on the sale of blunt wraps; a cap on the number of smoking shops allowed in the city; and a limit on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
The increased age goes into effect Dec. 15. The other regulations go into effect Jan. 15.
Yarmouth — The Barnstable County Superior Court upheld penalties levied against a Cumberland Farms convenience store in West Yarmouth for selling flavored cigars. Barnstable Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fishman affirmed a 2017 decision by the Yarmouth Board of Health that the Cumberland Farms store on Route 28 violated a town ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
The decision led to a $200 fine and a one-week suspension of the store’s tobacco sales permit, according to court documents.
Excelsior — This Minnesota city will become the 13th in the state to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old. The new regulation goes into effect Jan. 1.
Hermantown — The Hermantown City Council held a public hearing on a Tobacco 21 measure on Oct. 15. The majority of the debate centered on the inclusion of electronic cigarettes to the ordinance. The council will hold a second hearing on Nov. 5.
Helena — The Helena City Commission gave first approval to an ordinance banning the sale of tobacco products from a self-service display. A second reading was slated for Oct. 29.
A previous version of the ordinance included a move to limit flavored tobacco sales to adult-only retailers; however, Commissioner Ed Noonan successfully moved to have that language removed. The commission voted unanimously in favor of the amended ordinance.
Carmel — The Putnam County Legislature passed a proposal to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The increase is set to go into effect 60 days after the change is filed with the New York Secretary of State. Retailers will face fines between $300 and $1,000. The legislature tabled the vote at its September meeting.
Cleveland Heights — The City Council voted in favor of raising the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The measure includes electronic cigarettes and vapor products. The new law takes effect Jan. 1.
San Antonio — Oct. 1 ushered in a new era in tobacco sales: consumers under 21 are now prohibited from buying tobacco products in San Antonio. It becomes the first city in Texas to have a Tobacco 21 measure on the books.
The ordinance only applies to the sale of tobacco. People under 21 in possession of tobacco will not be fined or cited. Businesses will have a three-month grace period to adjust to its new rules. After Jan. 1, businesses face fines up to $500 for violating the law.