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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.
Denver — Colorado residents will cast votes for a proposed tobacco tax hike this fall. The measure, if approved, would raise levies by $1.75 per pack of cigarettes and 22-percent for other tobacco products. Revenue tax increase would fund anti-smoking programs, medical research into smoking-related illnesses, veterans' health care, youth mental health programs and student loan relief for rural doctors.
Iowa City — The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is exploring changes to its smoking laws, including banning electronic cigarette use in public places. The legislators also are considering prohibiting smoking and e-cigarette use within 25 feet of public buildings.
Similar smoking and e-cigarette regulations are already in place in some county municipalities, including Coralville and North Liberty. The county board of supervisors is now taking steps to bring the regulations countywide.
Indianapolis — E-Alternative Solutions (EAS) is speaking out against state legislation that put into place "expensive, burdensome manufacturing and security protocols that make it nearly impossible for vapor companies to do business in the state," according to EAS. The legislation is aimed primarily at e-liquids used in "open-system" products, while favoring cig-a-like "closed-system" products with limited or no regulation at all.
"We believe in responsible regulation of our industry, but the legislature has clearly over-stepped this with the extreme stance it has taken in regulating our right to do business in Indiana," explained Jacopo D'Alessandris, president of EAS. "Despite taking significant steps to comply with all aspects of the new legislation, we are still not able to do business in the state due to the overbearingly stringent security firm requirements. We want to ensure that the industry has a fighting chance to thrive and that consumers have the freedom to vape, and cannot in good conscience permit such a restrictive rule to remain uncontested."
EAS has joined the Right To Be Smoke-Free Coalition, a group who's focus is promoting the interests of the industry by advocating for reasonable and responsible laws and regulations. EAS will financially aid the Right To Be Smoke-Free Coalition in its legal process against Indiana HEA No. 1434.
The legislation regulates the mixing, bottling, packaging, distribution, sale, position and open use of certain e-liquids by requiring manufacturers to get a state permit from the state Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
The most controversial part of the law is the requirement that manufacturers contract with a security firm to regulate and inspect their facilities to prevent tampering. Opponents allege the way the law is written leaves a private security firm in Lafayette, Ind., Mulhaupt's, as the only company that can meet its stringent requirements.
Clayton — St. Louis County legislators gave preliminary approval to a proposal to ban the sale of tobacco products to consumers under 21 years old. Councilman Sam Page introduced the legislation. If approved, St. Louis County will join Columbia, Mo., 18 metropolitan Kansas City municipalities and local governments in 12 other states in adopting the Tobacco 21 efforts.
Jefferson City — Cole County Judge Jon Beetem ruled that a ballot measure to increase cigarette taxes in the state by 60 cents can stay on the Nov. 8 ballot. The decision followed an appeals court decision earlier this summer that changed the official summary of the measure.
The original ruling said the ballot proposal summary, prepared by Secretary of State Jason Kander's office, should have noted a separate, new 67-cent-per-pack fee on some cigarette brands will rise annually.
Opponents of the ballot measure plan to appeal Beetem's ruling.
Lee's Summit — The city's legal minimum age to buy tobacco products will jump to 21 on Dec. 1. Under the recently approved legislation, retailers and consumers can be held liable: it will become illegal to sell to anyone under 21 as well as for anyone under 21 to purchase the products. It remains illegal for a person under 18 to knowingly possess or use tobacco products.
Hudson — The Columbia County Board of Health failed to pass a move to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. Instead, board members said the issue, which would have an adverse effect on businesses, should be decided by the state.
Board of Health President Patricia DiGrigoli told a local news outlet that she hadn't seen proof that increasing the minimum purchase age helped limit youth tobacco use.