Tackling Tobacco: September 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.
Belmont — The Belmont City Council established a subcommittee to explore measures to limit vaping and the use of flavored tobacco products by underage users. Mayor Doug Kim initiated the discussion at a previous council meeting.
Palatine — The Palatine Village Council voted to prohibit vaping in public spaces, effective Jan. 2. The vote amended already a smoking ban already on the books to include electronic cigarettes and vapor products.
The ban covers public spaces such as bars restaurants, offices and the commuter rail station. Vaping will also be prohibited within 15 feet of a door to a public place. First time violators could be fined up to $100.
Lawrence — The Douglas County Commission voted in favor of raising the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. Approved on Sept. 26, the regulation does into effect in 30 days.
Baton Rouge — The presidents of the Orleans and Jefferson Parish Medical Societies joined Smoking Cessation Trust CEO Mike Rodgers in efforts to push the state legislature to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The current age is 18.
Minneapolis — The Minneapolis City Council voted in favor of moratorium on new tobacco shops after concluding that retailers were seeking those licenses to get around the city's restrictions on menthol tobacco sales. While the moratorium is in effect, the city will not issue licenses to businesses that want to open a tobacco shop. Existing tobacco businesses will be able to renew their licenses.
Under a regulation that went into effect in 2017, tobacco shops can sell menthol, but convenience stores and grocery stores are prohibited from selling menthol tobacco products. Subsequent to the rule, the city saw a wave of applications for tobacco shops. Minneapolis has 38 tobacco shops and seven pending new license applications for tobacco stores.
During the moratorium, the council will consider possible amendments to the zoning code and policies related to tobacco shops.
Minnetonka — City officials approved a proposed Tobacco 21 measure, banning the sale of tobacco products to consumers under 21 years old. It is the 12th municipality in the state to raise the legal minimum age.
Keene — After hearing public comments on Tobacco 21, the City Council's Municipal Services, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee voted 3-1 to request city staff to draft an ordinance increasing the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21.
Any ordinance needs to be considered by the committee and then the full council before any. The committee will meet on Oct. 24.
Albany — A law banning the sale of tobacco products pharmacies across Albany County went into effect Sept. 25. County officials approved the measure in March. Roughly 33 retailers will be affected by the change.
Carmel — The Putnam County Board of Legislators tabled a vote on a proposed Tobacco 21 measure. The lawmakers moved the vote from Sept. 5 to its full legislative meeting in October. The legislation needs a supermajority to pass; six of the nine lawmakers would have to vote yes.
Elizabethtown — The Essex County Board of Supervisors voted on Sept. 4 to approve a measure to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old. The new law will be complaint-driven and enforced by the county health department director or its designee.