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Update on Recent Legislation Affecting Premium Cigars

Interesting legislative news posted today from the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, Inc. (NATO)*. Below are some highlights of activity on state tobacco bills that pertain to the brothers & sisters of the leaf.

Legislative Action on State Tobacco Bills Recent action that has taken place on tobacco-related bills pending in state legislatures:

California: Senate Bill 7b, which increases the age to purchase, use and possess tobacco products to 21, passed the Assembly on March 3, 2016.

Hawaii: The following bills passed the Senate on March 8, 2016-

  1. Senate Bill 2408, which exempts “premium cigars” from the self-service display ban

  2. Senate Bill 2135, which changes the excise tax on large cigars from 70% of wholesale to the lesser of 50 cents or 50% of the wholesale price

New Hampshire: House Bill 1208, which changes several definitions to the tobacco tax laws, including the definition of a premium cigar by removing the criteria that cigars wholesale for $2.00 or more, was reported favorably from the House Ways & Means Committee on February 17, 2016.

New Jersey:

  1. Senate Bill 359, which raises the minimum age for the purchase and sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21, was reported from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on March 7, 2016.

  2. Assembly Bill 1815 was amended by the Health and Senior Services Committee on March 7, 2016 to assess the following tax rates:

  • Cigar tax rate of $2.70 per cigar

  • Cigarillo tax rate at $.54 per cigarillo

  • Little cigar tax rate of $.135 each

  • Pipe tobacco tax to $4.15 per ounce

Oregon: House Bill 4103, which requires smoke shop operators to obtain a certification from the state and pay a fee of $1,000, died due to adjournment of the legislature.

West Virginia: Senate Bill 420, which increases the tobacco product excise tax rate by another 5%, failed in the House Finance Committee by a 21-3 vote.


Newly Introduced State Tobacco Bills The following bills were recently introduced in state legislatures:

Utah: House Bill 486 requires tobacco retailers to use an electronic age verification system at the point of sale.

*NATO is a national trade association organized to enhance the common business interests of all tobacco retailers and to monitor and assist members in responding to tobacco-related legislation on the local, state and federal levels.

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