SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- While the Republican Party won major victories in last week’s elections, tobacco-session panelists at Winsight's recent Outlook Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., asked retailers to keep active, advising they get behind an emerging federal proposal to help ease FDA “deeming” regulations.
Referring to the Cole-Bishop amendment to the House agricultural budget bill, John Hoel, director of federal government affairs for Altria Client Services, Richmond, Va., told about 75 attendees that the measure would ease application requirements for any number of newly deemed products (such as vapor, cigars, etc.) brought to market after 2007.
The measure would move the so-called “predicate date,” or cutoff for new products to undergo an onerous application process with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Washington, D.C., possibly to Aug. 8, 2016. If passed, the measure would grandfather in many products, especially those in the vapor category, providing them a less complex path to FDA approval. Much of that legislative discussion over budgets is scheduled for this fall.
In terms of tax battles on the ballot, Kerry Paulson, regional director of the Eastern region for Altria, said three of four measures to raise state cigarette taxes failed, with approval occurring in California, where the taxes will increase $2 per pack to $2.87. Proposed tax increases failed in Colorado, Missouri and North Dakota.
Though movement on the federal level grabs headlines, Eric Barker, senior manager for local government affairs for Altria, said retailers need to focus on proposed ordinances introduced at the local and municipal levels. He said anti-tobacco groups often put their efforts into small towns as a way to create precedent for larger campaigns. In reviewing recent anti-tobacco strategies, he said such groups have pushed raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21, banning flavored products and restricting business permits on retailers selling tobacco.