Panelists commented on trade engagement, flavored tobacco and excise taxes. On trade engagement, they said the company continues its investments in what they called “local bill identification and stakeholder outreach,” emphasizing the importance of local business leaders and their perspectives.
They noted concerns with regulations in some Rhode Island jurisdictions and even some positive amendments on “problematic bills” in larger jurisdictions in California and New York, among other places.
“We carefully monitor state and local regulations, and engage when appropriate,” Smith said. “We advocate on public policy issues relevant to our companies by engaging responsibly with government officials, retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, adult consumers, employees and other stakeholders.”
Regarding flavors, the company opposes legislation that would prohibit selling certain kinds of tobacco products, for example, those with characterizing flavors. “Flavor bans can have many unintended consequences,” Barker said. “First, these types of bans can incent illicit contraband activity. And these bans discount the role that flavors could play in facilitating trial and possible adoption of potentially reduced-risk products. Any regulations regarding flavors, in particular menthol, should be undertaken by the FDA."
On excise taxes, the panelists drew similarities with flavor bans. They said excise taxes invite contraband and counterfeit-tobacco-product trafficking by creating a significant financial motive for criminals. “Flavor bans and excise taxes are unfair to the trade,” Barker said. “When adult tobacco consumers shift their purchases across state lines or to other sources, legitimate retailers and wholesalers lose sales and revenues.”