This month, the vast majority of state legislatures will begin their respective 2015 legislative sessions. Even though only a few states have actually opened their 2015 state legislative sessions, a number of tobacco-related legislative bills have been pre-filed, or introduced prior to the official beginning of the legislative session, and some bills have been carried over from the 2014 legislative session. Below is a listing of the pre-filed and carried over legislative bills by bill number:
California: Bill A 48 prohibits the sale of cigarettes with single use filters. Bill S2412 would apply penalties to retailers that sell e-cigarettes to a minor and require that e-cigarette cartridges liquid nicotine containers have in child-proof packaging.
Indiana: The Attorney General is proposing to include e-cigarettes in Indiana’s statewide smoking ban, tax e-cigarettes at the current tobacco tax rate of 24% of the wholesale price, require nicotine e-liquid contains to have child-resistant packaging, and require vape shops to be licensed.
Kentucky: Bill BR 127 prohibits indoor smoking in businesses, places of employment, and other public places.
Montana: Bill S 66 prohibits the sale or distribution of “electronic smoking device” to a minor and defines electronic smoking device to mean any product containing or delivering nicotine or any other substance intended for human consumption that can be used by a person to inhale vapor or aerosol from the product.
Nevada: SB 79 provides for the taxation of liquid nicotine at 30% of the wholesale price.
AB 83 expands the definition of a manufacturer to include persons manufacturing cigarettes using cigarette rolling machines and requires that they obtain a license from the Department of Taxation.
New Hampshire: A legislative request has been made for a bill to increase the state’s tobacco tax and dedicate the increase to tobacco prevention and control programs. The bill has not yet been drafted and details on the actual proposed tax increase have not been made available.
New Jersey: Three carryover bills from the 2014 legislative session include A 1308 that would tax little cigars at the same rate as cigarettes ($.135 per little cigar), A 1944/S 1213 to tax tobacco products at 90% of the wholesale price and moist snuff at $2.25 per ounce, and A 2021 to reduce the cigarette tax by $.30 per pack.
New Mexico: H 42 prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors also prohibits the Internet sale of electronic cigarettes to minors in the state. S 65 defines nicotine product as “a liquid solution containing nicotine that is intended for human consumption via an electronic delivery device” and imposes an excise tax at the rate of four cents ($.04) per milligram of liquid nicotine solution contained in the nicotine products.
New York: A 237 increases the purchase age to 21 for tobacco products and electronic cigarettes. A 296 includes electronic cigarettes and electronic cigarette cartridges in the definition of tobacco products in the New York state tax code and taxes both products at 75% of the wholesale price.
North Dakota: H 1078 prohibits the sale to and use of nicotine devices by minors. H 1133 taxes other tobacco products at 28% of the wholesale price. These products are currently taxed based on the net weight listed by the manufacturer.
Oregon: D 1037 and D 2268 expand the definition of tobacco products for purposes of taxation to include electronic cigarettes and nicotine solution. D 2565 increases the tax on cigarettes from $1.31/pack to $2.56/pack. D 317 increases the tax on cigarettes from $1.31/pack to $3.15/pack.
— D 321 removes prohibitions and would allow counties and municipalities to impose taxes on cigarettes and tobacco. D 322 and D 328 remove prohibitions and would allow counties and cities to impose taxes on cigarettes and tobacco.
Texas: H 170 prohibits the sale of nicotine products and electronic cigarettes to minors.
S 87 prohibits smoking in certain workplaces and public areas. S 96 and H 456 prohibit the use and possession of vapor products on school grounds. S 97 creates offenses for sales or gifts of electronic device products to minors.
Virginia: HB 1310 imposes a tax on electronic cigarettes and other vapor products at a rate of $.40 per millimeter of nicotine liquid solution or other material containing nicotine and authorizes certain cities and certain counties to impose a tax on vapor products.
Wyoming: D 316 raises the tax on cigarettes from $.60/pack to $1.00/pack and increases the tax on other tobacco products from 20% to 33% of the wholesale purchase price.
As additional tax bills are pre-filed or introduced, NATO will update its members on new tax legislation.
This list of the top twelve accomplishments of the association and its members below serves as yet another reason why membership in NATO is so important. In 2014, NATO and its members achieved the following:
1. FDA Comments: Submitted numerous comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in response to the proposed deeming regulations on cigars, pipe tobacco, e-cigarettes, and hookah tobacco.
2. State Cigarette/OTP Tax Bills: Opposed cigarette and tobacco tax legislation in 26 states with only Vermont actually enacting a cigarette tax increase of 13 cents a pack. The states that did not enact higher cigarette and/or tobacco taxes included Alabama, California, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont (did not enact a higher tobacco tax), Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
3. State E-Cigarette/Vapor Tax Bills: Opposed state bills to assess an excise tax on e-cigarettes. Fifteen state legislatures did not pass a bill assessing a tax on e-cigarettes or e-vapor products including Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Washington. A bill in North Carolina was enacted into law that assesses a 5 cent per milliliter tax on liquid nicotine.
4. Legal Age Bills: Opposed bills to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco. Bills to raise the legal age to 21 failed to pass in nine states including Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont.
5. Local Ordinances: Monitored and/or opposed 141 local city and county tobacco ordinances in the following states: California (21), District of Columbia (1), Florida (4), Illinois (3), Indiana (1), Iowa (1), Louisiana (2), Maryland (2), Massachusetts (59), Minnesota (8), Missouri (1), New Mexico (1), New Jersey (1), New York (11), North Carolina (2), Ohio (3), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island (1), Texas (3), Utah (4), Virginia (6), West Virginia (2), and Wisconsin (1). Defeated the Westminster, Massachusetts ordinance that would have banned the sale of all tobacco products in the entire town.
6. Membership Expansion: Increased NATO retail membership to 40,000 stores nationwide.
7. NATO News Bulletins: Issued NATO News Bulletins throughout the year to keep members updated on current local and state legislation and to educate members on FDA actions, including the proposed deeming regulations.
8. FDA “Real Cost” TV Ads: Filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alleging that the first set of television commercials produced and aired by the FDA under the “Real Cost” campaign, which showed a young male and a young female purchasing cigarettes for money and body parts, was an inaccurate and false depiction of cigarette sales at retail since retailers do not accept body parts as payment for cigarettes. The second round of “Real Cost” television commercials recently released by the FDA does not depict a retail store setting.
9. Public Relations: Issued press releases on major industry news stories including lawsuits and FDA regulatory matters as well as provided interviews to news media.
10. Conference Presentations: Presented legislative and FDA regulatory updates at tobacco industry and retail trade association conferences.
11. NATO Show: Conducted the fourth annual NATO Show in Las Vegas at the Paris Hotel which included informative retail education seminars and a sold out trade show floor.
12. NATO Education Foundation: Created the NATO Education Foundation and presented four Myrna B. Sherman Memorial Educational Scholarships to NATO retail member employees or their immediate family members.
Every NATO member should be proud of their association and the collective efforts of NATO staff and association members in responding to legislative and regulatory threats on tobacco products in 2014.
With 2015 just underway, NATO has already been planning for some very important actions and events in the challenging year ahead. These actions and events include the following:
1. Web-Based Alert System: NATO will unveil a new, customized web-based alert system that will make contacting state and Congressional lawmakers as easy as a couple clicks of a computer mouse. The goal of implementing this new alert system is to further encourage every NATO retail and wholesale member to participate in the legislative process by sending e-mail messages to their respective state and federal lawmakers on tobacco-related legislation.
2. FDA Director Mitch Zeller at 2015 NATO Show: NATO welcomes back to the 2015 ANTO Show Mitch Zeller, the Director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. Mitch Zeller will be speaking and participating in a panel discussion at the upcoming 2015 NATO Show to be held at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 22-23, 2015. The 2015 NATO Show will be an excellent opportunity for retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers to learn first hand from Director Zeller about the status of the FDA’s proposed tobacco deeming regulations, other regulatory actions, and research on tobacco products that the FDA is pursuing. To learn more about the upcoming 2015 NATO Show, visit www.NATOShow.com.
3. NATO Local Project: NATO is adding another staff person to organize retailers in cities and towns to respond to the increasing number of local tobacco-related ordinances. NATO is the only national retail trade association with a dedicated staff working exclusively on local tobacco ordinances.
4. NATO Explanation of FDA Regulations: In keeping with its reputation for accurate and timely reporting on FDA matters, NATO will be ready to provide its members with a detailed, yet easily understood summary of the FDA’s final deeming regulations on cigars, pipe tobacco, e-cigarettes, and hookah tobacco. With the FDA expected to finalize the deeming regulations sometime this year, the summary of the deeming regulations that NATO will provide to association members only will be invaluable.
In January of 2015, NATO will begin using a customized web-based grassroots advocacy system that allows each NATO member with just a couple of clicks of a computer mouse to send an e-mail message to the state or federal lawmakers that represent the legislative districts where each of the member’s stores are located. That is, regardless of the number of stores that a member owns and operates, the member will be able to send an e-mail message to each state senator and state representative, or U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative, for all of the member’s stores simultaneously.
Since the e-mail letter to lawmakers will already be drafted by the NATO staff, the member would only need to select whether the letter should go to state lawmakers or federal lawmakers, and then click submit. The custom alert system will recognize the member and automatically send a letter to each elected official on behalf of the each respective store.
NATO President Mary Szarmach expressed her enthusiasm for the new web alert system because “it will streamline NATO’s grassroots legislative efforts and be a valuable tool for retail members to contact their elected officials on tobacco legislation.” With the system so easy for NATO members to use, the goal is to have all NATO members communicating with their state and federal elected officials so that their voice can be heard and opinion registered on tobacco bills.
More information on the new web-based alert system will be provided to NATO members as January 1st approaches.