NATO Reaches a Membership Milestone: 51,000+ Stores

NATO StarThis week, NATO reached a milestone with the association’s retail store membership now exceeding 51,000 member stores. A special thank you goes out to the NATO board of directors for their dedication in helping NATO continue to grow while focusing on the association’s primary mission of monitoring and responding to local, state, and federal tobacco legislation and FDA regulations. Also, a sincere note of gratitude to the tobacco retailing community which has demonstrated a vote of confidence in NATO’s tobacco legislative and regulatory efforts through membership in the association.

Federal and State Legislative Update

Congress:  House Bill 3656 was introduced and prohibits the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under 21 years of age.

Congress:  House Bill 3242, which creates the “Child Nicotine Poisoning Act of 2015” and would require child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine containers, was held in committee after a hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee on September 30, 2015.

Illinois:  Senate Bill 1919, requiring retention of records for little cigars or other tobacco tax products brought in from outside the state, providing for electronic employee training for compliance with minimum-age tobacco laws, and requiring a distributor license number unless the distributor has been granted a waiver, passed the Senate.

Michigan:  Senate Bill 340, increasing the penalty from $50 to $100 for a first-time offense of selling tobacco products to a minor and up to $500 for second-time offenses, passed the Senate.

Pennsylvania:  The House voted down the Governor’s budget package by a vote of 123 to 73 on October 7, 2015.  Tobacco taxes had been removed from the bill prior to the vote, but do remain on the table for potential consideration.  The House reconvenes on October 19, 2015.

“Tobacco to 21” Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate 

A bill entitled the “Tobacco to 21 Act” (Senate Bill 2100) was introduced in the U.S. Senate to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.  The bill was introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Senator Mazie Horono (D-Hawaii), Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Senator Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut).  The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Washington, DC Vapor Tax Goes Into Effect on October 1st

Effective October 1, 2015, the tax rate on other tobacco products sold in the District of Columbia decreases from 70% to 67% of the wholesale price and the 67% tax rate will also apply to vapor products. The term “vapor product” means any “non-lighting, noncombustible product that employs a mechanical heating element, battery, or electronic circuit, regardless of the shape or size, that can be used to produce aerosol from nicotine in a solution or any vapor cartridge or other container of nicotine in a solution or other form that is intended to be used with or in an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or similar product or device.”

The 67% excise tax will be imposed on the wholesale price of disposable e-cigarettes, plus nicotine cartridges, tanks, batteries, atomizers, cartomizers, and mouthpieces. Accessories that are not a part of the device itself such as a battery charger will not be subject to the 67% excise tax.

Chicago Mayor Emanuel Proposes E-Vapor Tax

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed a new tax of $1.25 for every container or cartridge of e-cigarette liquid plus 25 cents per milliliter of liquid nicotine solution.  The proposal is part of a number of tax and fee increases that the mayor is seeking to fund underfunded city pensions.  The tax on e-cigarettes and e-vapor is projected to generate about $1 million.