7 Takeaways From Day 1 of the Total Nicotine Conference

'Deeming,’ the local battlefield and tobacco purchase patterns were hot topics

CHICAGO -- This year’s CSP Total Nicotine Conference focuses in on moving with the regulatory winds. So it’s no surprise that the first day of the event began with a presentation by NATO’s executive director Thomas Briant on federal, state and local tobacco regulations. Rajeev Sharma, chief analytics officer, founder and chairman of VideoMining, State College, Pa., followed with a presentation on the shopping patterns of convenience-store tobacco shoppers.

Here are seven key facts and insights from Briant and Sharma’s presentations:

A Full-Time Job
By the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) own estimates, it will take one person working full time 10.5 months to complete just one premarket tobacco application (PMTA). “Compliance will certainly be costly,” Briant said.

Don’t Hold Your Breath on Cole-Bishop
While an amendment has been introduced to push back the ever-important “grandfather date” (meaning products on the market by Aug. 8 would not have to submit a substantial equivalence or PMTA application to the FDA), Briant warned it still has a long way to go. The measure still needs to be approved by the House, approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Barack Obama. Given the gridlock in Congress, Briant said it was unlikely the amendment ever gets to the president.

A National “21” Law Unlikely
Many anti-tobacco advocates had pushed for the FDA to increase the minimum purchase age as part of the “deeming” regulations. Briant said that was never an option for the agency: “The FDA does not have the power to raise the minimum purchase age beyond 18—only Congress has the power to do that.”

Take the Fight Local
In 2015, NATO responded to 100 onerous tobacco regulations proposed by local governments; the association predicts that number will double (to 200) this year. Then again, 200 probably seems low for retailers in Massachusetts. So far, 47 local governments in the Bay State have proposed flavor bans and 122 local governments have proposed minimum-age laws.

Drink Up!
What’s the No. 1 category purchased by tobacco consumers? VideoMining’s data shows it’s beverages of all kinds, from fountain to coffee to beer.

What Dual Usage?
Not only is tobacco a mission purchase, Sharma says 99% of tobacco shoppers buy only one subcategory within the tobacco category (i.e., just cigarettes, just cigars, just electronic cigarettes). This focus also means the front counter is prime territory to elicit impulse purchases from tobacco shoppers.

Carry Those Brands
Out of stock? A VideoMining survey of tobacco shoppers shows that 52% will walk out without buying a substitute if a store doesn’t have their preferred brand. And make sure the stock is good on Fridays, which are peak days for tobacco shoppers.

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