Tobacco

C-Store and Tobacco Insiders Grapple With Vermont’s Proposed Flavor Ban

‘Simply put, prohibition does not work,’ says executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets
vermont map
Photograph: Shutterstock

Tobacco and convenience-store insiders are weighing in on Vermont’s proposed tobacco flavor ban.

Bill S.18, which passed the state senate last March and is now waiting on a vote in the house proposes to ban the retail sale of flavored cigarettes, e-cigarettes and e-liquids.

David Spross, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO), told CSP that this would lead to a negative effect on the state’s convenience-store’s back bar and instead would profit illegal activity.

“This bill would shift the supply of flavored products from responsible, licensed and regulated retailers who check IDs to drastically expand an already existing illicit marketplace where IDs are not checked,” Spross said. “Simply put, prohibition does not work.”

Echoing the same sentiments, Peter Brennan, executive director of theNew England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association Inc. (NECSEMA), says neighborhood convenience stores would suffer.

“This proposal would have a devastating impact on the Green Mountain State’s economy by removing a key source of tax revenue and a significant portion of sales for small businesses,” Brennan told CSP.

Lawmakers in Montpellier are already facing major budget pressures this session including a 20% property tax hike, Brennan said.

“Flavor bans are bad for Vermont’s businesses and taxpayers, and we urge lawmakers to instead work with responsible retailers on strong enforcement efforts and educational campaigns that have already driven youth tobacco and nicotine use to historic lows,” Brennan said.

Local media outlets in Vermont this week reported that nearly 200 students marched to show their support for the bill.

According to the state legislature website, testimony regarding S.18 was heard on Feb. 8 through the House Committee on Ways and Means. Until then, convenience stores in Vermont will continue to wait if there will be a whole different back bar.

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