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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 1470, which, for purposes of the tobacco store exception to the self-service display ban, revises the definition to include only those stores that primarily sell tobacco products and paraphernalia, passed Senate on April 28, 2016.

Governor Jerry Brown has signed or vetoed the following legislative bills:

  1. Assembly Bill 10b authorizing counties and cities to impose a tax on distributing cigarettes and tobacco products, was vetoed on May 4, 2016.

  2. Assembly Bill 11b requiring a $265 annual fee for retailers of cigarettes and tobacco products was signed on May 4, 2016.

  3. Senate Bill 7b, which increases the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 and deletes the existing prohibition on use and possession by those under 21, was signed on May 4, 2016 and goes into effect on June 9, 2016.

Hawaii: The following bills died upon adjournment of the legislature:

  1. House Bill 145 increasing the excise tax on other tobacco products,

  2. Senate Bill 1220 for purposes of taxation expands the definition of tobacco products to include products containing nicotine and no tobacco and imposes an excise tax equal to 80% of the wholesale price on all tobacco products other than large cigars,

  3. Senate Bill changing the excise tax on large cigars from 70% of wholesale to the lesser of 50 cents or 50% of the wholesale price,

  4. Senate Bill 2689 increasing tobacco retailer licenses from $20 to $50 annually and requiring e-cigarette and related products dealers to have a tobacco retailer license.

Massachusetts: Senate Bill 1453 increasing the tax on cigars (an additional 80% of wholesale) and smoking tobacco (an additional 90% of wholesale) and smokeless tobacco was ordered for investigation and study on May 12, 2016. Senate Bill 2269 (drafted from SB2234), which increases the purchase age to 21 for tobacco products (including electronic cigarettes) and prohibits the sale of tobacco products by pharmacies and imposes other product restrictions was referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing on May 2, 2016.

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 vetoed by the Governor on May 6, 2016.

Vermont: House Bill 171, which prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in the same places where the use of lighted tobacco products is banned and prohibits electronic cigarette displays on store counters, is eligible for the Governor’s desk.


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

Kansas: Senate Bill 518 adds electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco to licensing requirements for retail establishments, and includes provisions that allow the State's Director of Taxation to refuse to issue or renew a cigarette or tobacco products retail license.

*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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