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    Tackling Tobacco: March 2017 Legislative & Regulatory Roundup

    Tobacco 21 efforts continue.

    By Melissa Kress, Convenience Store News

    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.

    ARKANSAS

    Little Rock — Arkansas State Rep. Fred Allen (D-33rd District) introduced legislation to prohibit the sale of tobacco products in the state to consumers under 21 years old. The measure, HB 1711, covers all tobacco products, vapor products, alternative nicotine products, e-liquid products, and cigarette papers.

    FLORIDA

    Tallahassee — State Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) proposed legislation to increase Florida's minimum legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. He introduced the bill on March 7 and the measure is currently in committee.

    MISSOURI

    Jefferson City — Members of the City Council will vote on legislation to restrict the sale of tobacco products to consumers 21 and over in April. The bill does not prohibit the possession of tobacco and related products by those 18 and older.

    MINNESOTA

    Edina — The municipality could become the first in the state to hike the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The City Council voted in favor of drafting a Tobacco 21 ordinance and schedule a public hearing on the issue. Dr. Caleb Schultz, the city’s Community Health Commission, is leading the effort.

    MONTANA

    Helena — Montana's state cigarette excise tax could jump $1.50 a pack under a new bill under legislative review. The bill would also implement the state's first tax on electronic cigarettes. In addition to the proposed cigarette tax increase, taxes on other tobacco products — including e-cigarettes — would see a 24-percent increase under Senate Bill 354.

    A portion of the revenue would be used to increase the salaries of direct care workers providing Medicaid services. 

    NEW MEXICO

    Santa Fe — The New Mexico State Senate voted in favor of raising the state's cigarette excise tax to $3.16 per pack. The proposal equals a $1.50 increase. The issue moved to the state's House of Representatives with the 24-16 vote. The initiative would raise an annual $89 million for public schools. Gov. Susana Martinez has said she would veto any outright tax increases while considering changes to credits and deductions.

    The bill would also raise taxes on other tobacco products including electronic cigarettes to 75 percent from 25 percent.

    NEW YORK

    Geneseo — The Livingston County Human Services Committee directed county Department of Health to explore raising the legal age to buy tobacco products in the county from 18 to 21. The health department has asked the county Board of Supervisors to pass a local law adopting the Tobacco 21 movement. Seven counties in New York State have adopted similar legislation.

    NORTH CAROLINA

    Raleigh — North Carolina lawmakers are reviewing a bill to raise the state's minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21. The measure, House Bill 435, has been sent to the House Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations. If it is signed into law, it would take effect Jan. 1.

    The bill contains an exemption for active military personnel and a grandfather clause for those born in 1998 and 1999. After Jan. 1, 2021, all consumers would have to be at least 21 to purchase those products.

    OREGON

    Eugene — Tobacco users under 21 years old will no longer be able to buy tobacco products in Lane County, effective April 13. The county Board of Commissioners approved the Tobacco 21 ordinance on March 14. The measure covers cigarettes, pipes, electronic cigarettes and all other tobacco products. 

    PENNSYLVANIA

    Pittsburgh — Allegheny County lawmakers approved a ban on using electronic cigarettes in public. The 8-5 vote extends the county's public smoking ban to e-cigarettes.

    VERMONT

    Montpelier — Legislation to set the state's minimum legal age to buy tobacco products at 21 failed to pass a roll call vote on March 24. The bill can still be voted on again; however, no further action is currently planned.

    A legislative analysis released days before the vote showed that Vermont could lose more than $2 million during the next three years if the measure passes.

    By Melissa Kress, Convenience Store News
    • About Melissa Kress Melissa Kress joined EnsembleIQ's Convenience Store News in November 2010. Her primary beats include alcoholic beverages and tobacco. Kress has been a professional journalist since 1995. A graduate of West Virginia University, she began her career in community journalism before moving to business-to-business publishing in 2000, covering commercial real estate.

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