Local Tobacco Issues Require Local Retail Response

NATO is already tracking local proposals in 11 states

Thomas A. Briant, NATO Executive Director

Tobacco Hearing

Westminster tobacco ban hearing

MINNEAPOLIS -- Last year, NATO monitored and responded to more than 160 local tobacco-related proposed ordinances in over twenty states. Just six weeks into the New Year, this trend of more restrictive tobacco regulations continues.
This year, NATO is already tracking and assisting retailers respond to local tobacco issues in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Utah.  
The kind of tobacco-related restrictions being proposed at the local level include banning or restricting the redemption of tobacco product coupons by retailers; prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products (including flavored cigars, flavored smokeless products, flavored pipe tobacco, and flavored electronic cigarettes); adopting proximity limits so that retail stores selling tobacco products are not located within a certain number of feet from schools, playgrounds, churches and other youth-oriented facilities; placing a cap on the number of retail tobacco licenses that are issued, mandating minimum cigar package sizes and/or setting minimum cigar prices; and raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products.
All of these kinds of restrictions have the potential to negatively impact a retailer’s ability to sell legal tobacco products, to the point where some restrictions would require numerous tobacco products to be removed from store shelves permanently. If a sales decline due to such restrictions was severe enough, even employee jobs could be at stake.  
For this reason, it is imperative for local retailers to respond to these kinds of restrictions by contacting their local government officials and expressing their concerns about the impact such regulations would have on their business. This is especially true because retailers have done an outstanding job of preventing the sale of tobacco products to underage youth. This is demonstrated by retailers passing FDA sponsored retail compliance checks approximately 95% of the time.
NATO will be there to assist on local ordinances, but it is direct participation by local retailers in responding to local ordinances that has the greatest impact on local officials.