MINNEAPOLIS -- Nearly three months into 2017, a growing number of tobacco-related bills have either died for failure to be passed by a state legislative deadline or been defeated in committee hearings.
Those bills that have either died or been defeated come in four general forms:
- To raise the legal age to purchase tobacco.
- To increase taxes on tobacco products.
- To adopt new taxes on e-cigarettes.
- To impose higher penalties on retailers that sell tobacco to underage youth.
There are still many other tobacco-related legislative bills pending in numerous state legislatures that are being debated by state lawmakers. As state legislative sessions proceed toward adjournment, more definitive action could be taken by lawmakers on these other tobacco bills.
A summary of the bills that have either died or been defeated this year by state:
Hawaii: House Bill 247 and Senate Bill 291 would have increased the excise tax on large cigars from 50% to 70% of the wholesale price; House Bill 769, House Bill 1332 and Senate Bill 87 would have changed the excise tax on large cigars (currently 50% of the wholesale price) to the lesser of 50% of the wholesale price or 50 cents; and Senate Bill 1055 would have prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes that contain nicotine.
Idaho: Senate Bill 1106 would have raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age.
Iowa: Senate Bill 5 would have changed the minimum legal sales age and the minimum age to purchase, use or possess tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Kansas: Senate Bill 175 would have raised the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack and doubled the tax on other tobacco products (OTP) from 10% to 20% of the wholesale price.
Mississippi: House Bill 1721 would have increased the excise tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack; House Bill 1312 and Senate Bill 2464 would have provided that if a retailer has not paid a tobacco wholesaler, then the wholesaler would need to notify the Commissioner of Revenue who, in turn, would notify all tobacco wholesalers so that future deliveries to the retailer would have needed to be on a cash-on-delivery (COD) basis; and Senate Bill 2578 would have repealed the Unfair Cigarette Sales Law.
New Mexico: Senate Bill 231 would have increased the state cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack, raised the tax on OTP an additional 51% of the purchase price, and also included electronic cigarettes in the definition of “tobacco products.”
Utah: House Bill 406 would have raised the age for purchase, use and possession of tobacco from 19 to 20 years old in 2018 and then to 21 years old in 2019; House Bill 325 would have made the penalties on retailers for selling tobacco to underage persons more severe; House Bill 439 would have imposed a tax of 86% of the wholesale price on e-cigarettes and their components; and House Bill 370 would have required retail tobacco specialty businesses to obtain state and local permits to operate.
Thomas A. Briant is executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO). Reach him at (866) 869-8888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.