CONCORD, N.H. -- For convenience and tobacco retailers, tobacco-category legislation on the state and local level can often pose a significant threat to business. To help retailers track these ongoing measures, CSP Daily News is starting a monthly newsletter, Legislation Watch, designed to track emerging state, city and municipal legislation affecting tobacco and other category-related products.
Among the latest legislative news is word that New Hampshire may join five other states in raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21. Two state senators have co-sponsored a new bill to raise the legal age from 18, according to the Concord Monitor.
Other activity across the country abounds. With help from Minneapolis-based NATO, here’s a state-by-state recap of recent or pending tobacco regulations and legislation:
- Alaska: House Bill 271 would prohibit smoking, including the use of vapor products, in certain public places.
- Arizona: House Bill 2109 and Senate Bill 1010, which would raise the minimum legal sales age and the age for purchase, use or possession of tobacco products to 21, were introduced Jan. 8.
- Hawaii: House Bill 1636, which would increase the annual license fee for tobacco retailers from $2.50 to $500, the tobacco tax on cigarettes and little cigars from $3.20 per pack to $4.50 per pack and the tax on other tobacco products or OTP (not including large cigars) from 70% to 80% of the wholesale price, was introduced Jan. 17.
- Idaho: House Bill 341 would require an annual fee of $100 for a retail tobacco permit. There currently is no fee for the permit.
- Indiana: House Bill 1187 would impose a tax of 10 cents per fluid milliliter on e-liquids that contain nicotine. Senate Bill 23 would repeal the “Smokers’ Bill of Rights” law. House Bill 1217 would raise the penalty from a Class C infraction to a Class B infraction if a person sells cigarettes other than in an unopened package; raise the penalty from a Class C infraction to a Class B infraction if a person sells or distributes tobacco or an electronic cigarette to a person under 18 years of age; and require authorities to revoke a tobacco-sales certificate if a certificate holder has three convictions for certain tobacco crimes. House Bill 1281 would prohibit the sale or distribution of tobacco products or vapor products at retail without a valid tobacco-sales certificate, require a $200 licensing fee and establish requirements for obtaining the tobacco-sales certificate. House Bill 1380 would increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack and raise the legal purchase age to 21. House Bill 1381 would eliminate current exemptions from the state smoking ban, including exemptions for retail tobacco stores, bars, private clubs and gaming facilities.
- Kentucky: House Bill 29 would increase the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack; on snuff by 32 cents per 1.5 ounces; on chewing tobacco by 32 cents per single unit, 67 cents per half-pound unit and $1.08 per each pound unit; and on tobacco products (including electronic cigarettes) to 40% of distributor sales price with a floor-stocks tax assessed and due as of Sept. 30, 2018. Senate Bill 29 would increase the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack; on snuff by $1 per 1.5 ounces; on chewing tobacco by $1 per unit; and tobacco products (including electronic cigarettes) by $1 per unit with a floor-stocks tax due as of Sept. 30, 2018.
- Maryland: Heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Jan. 17, Senate Bill 90 (cross-filed with House Bill 47) would authorize the holder of an electronic-nicotine-delivery-systems retailer license to make sales to consumers through the mail, a computer network, a telephonic network or another electronic network.
- Minnesota: Mankato, Minn., the 22nd largest city in Minnesota with a population of 47,000, held a public hearing in mid-January on a proposed ordinance that would raise the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, according to the Mankato Free Press. North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen said the council will vote on the ordinance during its Feb. 5 meeting.
- Mississippi: House Bill 140, which would raise the minimum legal sales age and the minimum legal purchase age for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21, was introduced Jan. 2 and assign ed to the House Committee on Drug Policy. House Bill 522, which would establish a small-business health-insurance pool and may, but currently does not, include a tax increase on tobacco products, was introduced Jan. 8. House Bill 835, which raises the minimum legal sales age and the minimum legal purchase age for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21, was introduced Jan. 11. House Bill 906, which would increase the tobacco-equity tax on nonparticipating manufacturers from 27 cents per pack to 68 cents per pack, was introduced Jan. 11. House Bill 1157, would require tobacco retailers to pay cash on delivery for shipments from all manufacturers or wholesalers and subjects the retailer to revocation of his or her retail permit, was introduced Jan. 16. Senate Bill 2230, which would increase the tax on cigarettes from 68 cents to $2.18 per pack effective July 1, 2018, was introduced Jan. 9. Senate Bill 2445, which would increase the tax on cigarettes from 68 to 98 cents per pack effective July 1, 2018, was introduced Jan. 15.
- Missouri: House Bill 1855, which would allow local jurisdictions to impose excise taxes on tobacco products, was introduced Jan. 3.
- New Hampshire: Senate Bill 409, which would change the tax on moist snuff from 65.03% of wholesale to $1.68 per ounce, was heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 17. Senate Bill 545, which would increase the legal purchase age to 21, was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on Jan. 18. Senate Bill 207, which would change the tax rate on chewing tobacco from 65.03% of wholesale to $1.55 per ounce, failed to pass the Senate per Senate Rule 3-23 on Jan. 3. In addition, State Sen. David Watters (D) and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R) co-sponsored a bill to raise the legal age of buying cigarettes and other tobacco products (OTP) in New Hampshire from 18 to 21. If successful, New Hampshire will join five other states that have voted to do the same. These states are California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon.
- New Jersey: Senate Bill 992 would prohibit the sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices at pharmacies.
- New Mexico: Senate Bill 60 would increase the legal age to purchase tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21. Senate Bill 25 would increase the tax on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack, increase the tax on OTP an additional 51% of the product value and impose a new tax on vapor products at the rate of 76% of the product value.
- New York: Senate Bill 7335 would impose a tax on vapor products at 25 cents per fluid milliliter. The governor’s budget bill imposes a tax on vapor products at 10 cents per fluid milliliter.
- Texas: Despite failing to keep San Antonio from being the first city in Texas to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 (raising it from 17 years of age), area retailers went down fighting. According to KSAT, the local ABC affiliate, local retailers protested at City Hall a day before the Jan. 11 vote. “How [am I] going to pay my bills?” said Anwar Tahir, president of the local Association of Convenience Store Retailers. “How am I going to pay my expenses? Pay my employees?” Paul Hardin, president of the Texas Food & Fuel Association, Austin, Texas, said the proposal will also harm the local economy.
- Washington: The following bills have been carried over from the 2017 session and were reintroduced Jan. 8. House Bill 1261 would exempt tobacco products from the prohibition on self-service displays. House Bill 1919 would establish special license endorsements for cigar shops and retail tobacco shops. House Bill 2144 would impose the tobacco-products-excise tax of 95% of the taxable sales price on vapor products. House Bill 2165 would impose an excise tax on vapor products at the rate of 60% of the taxable sales price. House Bill 1054, Senate Bill 5025 and Senate Bill 6048 would increase the legal age to purchase tobacco products and vapor products from 18 to 21.