Petrogram - Winter 2011 - (Page 14)
Regulatory and Legislative Update and Trends
You Can Make a Difference
hen it comes to tobacco, there are many issues at the local, state and federal level, including regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which affect how retailers sell and market cigarettes and other tobacco products, a category that represents more than 36 percent of in-store sales at convenience stores.
Steve Kottak, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) The FDA Act requires that cigarette packages and advertisements have larger and more visible graphic health warnings. Beginning September 2012, the FDA will require these warnings to appear on the top 50 percent of both the front and rear panels of each cigarette package and occupy at least 20 percent of cigarette advertisements. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act authorizes the FDA to contract with states and U.S. territories to assist with compliance and enforcement activities to help limit the availability of tobacco products to youth. The FDA’s goal is to contract with every state to assist with enforcement of the regulations. Currently, 38 states and Washington, D.C. have been awarded contracts—Florida does not yet have a contract. To date, it’s been reported that more than 19,000 retail stores have been inspected, and approximately 97 percent of the stores have been successful in passing the inspections. Generally, the inspectors are checking for the following: • No self-service displays of cigarettes, rollyour-own tobacco or smokeless tobacco in a store that permits minors;
• No sales of individual cigarettes; • Store clerks request and check photo identification of customers who are under 27 years old; and • Store clerks do not sell tobacco products to an underage minor accompanying the inspector. Retailers should note that the statecommissioned inspectors generally do not announce themselves to store personnel. For more information, go to the “Tobacco Products” section on the FDA’s website at www.FDA.gov/tobaccoproducts.
State activities At the state level, more than 30 bills were filed this year to increase excise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. To date, only two cigarette tax increases were passed—Connecticut and Vermont. The New Hampshire legislature passed HB 2, which included the tobacco tax rollback. This bill reduced the cigarette excise tax by $1 per carton and the excise tax on smokeless and other tobacco products by approximately 26 percent. State excise taxes on cigarettes have dramatically increased over time. It’s important that retailers continue to build and maintain relationships with elected officials so they can have a voice when new tobacco tax proposals are considered. Local issues The number of ordinances at the local level that call for more stringent tobacco marketing and advertising restrictions continues to surface at an ever-increasing rate. Common themes of these ordinances
include advertising restrictions, banning of certain tobacco products and local taxation. For example, in Buffalo, New York, a tobacco control ordinance is being considered by the Buffalo Common Council that would, among other things, ban color advertising in retail stores, impose a new city license for all stores or outlets that sell tobacco, require retailers to post warning signs where tobacco products are sold, and limit the number of licenses available to new tobacco-selling businesses in order to reduce the number of stores selling tobacco products. Remember, being involved at the local level and being responsible by fully complying with all existing laws can help achieve a favorable outcome.
Make your opinion known Being politically active doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. To help in this effort, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company developed www.NoCigTax.com, a one-stop online resource for tobacco tax information, including ways to quickly contact elected officials. It can be a valuable resource in making your voice heard. Retailers also can find useful information in the “Legislation” section of www.EngageRJRT.com. Considering how important tobacco sales are to your business, time devoted to developing relationships with legislators and being active in the political process at all levels is a small investment that can pay dividends for many years to come—not only on tobacco issues, but also on other proposals that affect your business. ❍
14 | View past issues of Petrogram online at www.fpma.org.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Petrogram - Winter 2011
FPMA Salutes Its Patron Members
Insurance Issues: Fire Prevention
Advertisers’ Centerspead Marketplace
Regulatory and Legislative Update and Trends
Enviro Corner: Strategic Planning
Remember that Old Out-of-Date Word: Eligibility?
Out & About the Industry
Work Smart, Win Big on Property Taxes
Barrister’s Counsel 2012 – The Redistricting Session:
Index of Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Petrogram - Winter 2011