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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)* and the International Premium Cigar and Pipe retailers Association (IPCPR)†. 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:

Alaska: House Bill/Senate Bill 4001-

  1. Increases taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products including electronic smoking products;

  2. Mandates that cigarettes and tobacco products will be taxed at the rate of 100% of the wholesale price and electronic smoking products 75% of the wholesale price;

  3. Allows the State to enter into an agreement with a municipality to impose a tax on cigarettes and tobacco products including electronic smoking products.

The bills were introduced, referred to the House Finance Committee and the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee 5/23/2016 and hearing held 5/24/2016; however, the bills failed upon adjournment 6/18/2016. Now, Governor Bill Walker (I) has called the Legislature into another special session after the Legislature failed to reach a deal on the budget deficit facing the State. On the list of subjects the Legislature will consider during the special session is an act relating to the excise taxes on tobacco products. The session will begin on Monday, July 11, 2016 and is scheduled to last for 30 days.

California: Senate Bill 1333 creates a infraction for a person to smoke, on a state coastal beach or in a unit of the state park system or to dispose of a used cigar or cigarette waste on a state coastal beach or in a unit of the state park system. Requires the Department of Parks and Recreation to develop and post signs at state coastal beaches and units of the state park system to provide notice of the smoking prohibition. Bill was amended on 6/20/16, effective January 1, 2017.

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, received a vote in the House that sustained the Governor’s veto on June 16, 2016.

Pennsylvania: Senate Bill 1032 makes it a summary offense to smoke in a vehicle in which children 12 years of age and younger are being transported. Sets a penalty of $100 for the first offense, increasing to $250 for second and subsequent offenses. The bill was introduced and referred to Senate Transportation Committee on 10/21/2015. Hearing held 3/22/2016, but hearing canceled 6/24/2016. Effective date will be 60 days after passage.

Rhode Island: House Bill 7664, which prohibits the use of electronic nicotine-delivery systems in enclosed public places and places of employment, passed the House on June 17, 2016. Senate Bill 2193, which modifies the definition of little cigars to 4.5 pounds per thousand, requires little cigars be sold in packs of 20 or more and taxes little cigars as cigarettes, passed the Senate on June 18, 2016. House Bill 7953, allowing holders of a smoking bar license in the city of Providence to sell alcoholic beverages if their primary business is the sale of tobacco, passed the House and the Senate on 6/18/16, and is effective immediately.

West Virginia: Senate Bill 1012-

  1. Raises the tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes from 7 to 12%;

  2. Allows for a 2-month reporting period before this measure goes into effect for businesses so as to allow for them to become operational; and

  3. States no municipality or government subdivision shall regulate or prohibit tobacco product promotions and sales within retail stores.

The bill was signed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) on 6/17/2016, effective date July 1, 2016.

Newly Introduced State Tobacco Bills No new bills have been introduced in state legislatures since last update.

*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.

IPCPR is a non-profit trade association representing and assisting premium retail tobacconists and their suppliers.

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