LAKEVILLE, Minn. — The federal government and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tobacco regulations have set the minimum age to purchase tobacco products at 21 years, effectively prohibited the sale of flavored cartridge vapor products and required premarket tobacco applications to be submitted to the FDA for any new tobacco product introduced in the market after Feb. 15, 2007.
Because of these actions, retailers may feel that most of the tobacco issues have been resolved and nothing needs to be done on the city or county level.
That is not the case at all, however. Many local elected officials believe that the federal actions are not enough, and consequently, they want to further restrict or prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products and flavored vapor products, impose additional taxes on tobacco products and generally make it very difficult to continue to sell tobacco products. For these reasons, it is imperative that retailers need to stay engaged and respond to proposed local tobacco restrictions and regulations.
In January 2019, a website for the National Local Advocacy Alliance was launched to help retailers learn about and respond to local tobacco ordinances. The website includes the following features:
- Local ordinances page: A listing of proposed local tobacco ordinances by state.
- Take action page: Contact your local officials about a proposed ordinance is simplified with an easy-to-send, pre-drafted e-mail message or post a comment on the Facebook page of local lawmakers.
- Resources page: Fact sheets on the different kinds of local tobacco ordinances, which can be used as talking points with local elected officials.
Retailers can also sign up to stay informed of new local ordinances being considered by local governments in any state.
Additionally, NATO maintains a spreadsheet that includes information about local tobacco-related ordinances that have been enacted since 2012 and pending ordinances. To access the NATO spreadsheet, visit NATO’s local ordinance spreadsheet website at natocentral.org/local-ordinances.
It is important for retailers to remain aware of actions on the local level that may significantly impact their businesses, especially in these times where retailers have been greatly affected by the coronavirus and local disturbances. Retailers are urged to become acquainted with and make use of these resources.
Thomas Briant is the executive director of NATO, a tobacco retailing association based in Lakeville, Minn. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.