MINNEAPOLIS -- In response to the multiplying number of local tobacco ordinances around the country, NATO and Swedish Match have been working to create a new website, www.tobaccoordinances.info, that will serve as a resource center for retailers and local elected officials alike. This new website is known as T.O.T.A.L., which stands for “Tobacco Ordinances: Take Another Look.”
The mission of the website: “Local city councils throughout the country are considering passing ordinances that will increase the legal age to purchase tobacco, ban certain flavor profiles, mandate minimum package sizes, prohibit coupons, outlaw multipack discount pricing and/or assess new taxes on other tobacco products. If passed, these ordinances negatively affect local retailers, businesses and economies; and also contribute to job loss and increased crime rates. What these ordinances do not do is affect youth tobacco rates or address how today’s youth actually procure their tobacco—social sources. In reality, 75% of underage youth get tobacco from social sources, which include older siblings, friends, parents and even strangers. T.O.T.A.L. is an online information hub to share facts and information regarding these ordinances and how they negatively affect communities without actually addressing the problem.”
The website is designed to help retailers with the information they need to respond to unnecessary tobacco restrictions. The site includes viewable and downloadable information sheets on coupon redemption bans, flavored-tobacco product bans, local cigarette and OTP taxes, prohibitions on promotionally priced products, raising the legal age to buy tobacco products, cigar pack size and minimum pricing requirements, what are “social sources,” the cause and effect of local tobacco ordinances, the negative outcomes associated with the adoption of local ordinances, and alternatives to adopting additional restrictions on the retail sale of tobacco products.
Retailers are encouraged to visit the website and view all of the information that is available to assist in responding to proposed local ordinances. The NATO Local Project has been helping retailers oppose local tobacco ordinances for four years running, and the T.O.T.A.L. website is a further initiative by NATO and Swedish Match to educate not only retailers but also local lawmakers, about the reasons why local ordinances will generally not reduce underage access to, and use of, tobacco products. The real problem as stated in the website mission statement is the ability of underage youth to obtain tobacco products through social sources.
Local lawmakers need to understand that retailers are a part of the solution to underage access to and use of tobacco products and that there are alternatives to consider rather than the adoption of more restrictions or prohibitions on the sale of legal tobacco products.
To visit the T.O.T.A.L. website, click here and enter the password 20total16.