retail sales bans and restrictions

The Issue:

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed, giving the U.S. Food & Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products. In 2016, the FDA extended its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including cigars, e-vapor products, and other products containing tobacco derived nicotine. However, a number of state and local governments are considering laws to further and unfairly regulate tobacco products. For example:

State and local governments continue to consider measures to further restrict the sales of tobacco products. These include:

  • Geographic restrictions on where tobacco products can be sold
  • Bans on tobacco sales at certain retail outlets
  • Advertising and marketing restrictions
  • Bans on menthol cigarettes and flavored dip and cigars
  • Bans on coupons and discounts for tobacco products
  • Bans on the display of tobacco products in stores

Unlike the state legislative process, where proposed tobacco tax increases and new regulations typically are considered at multiple levels—by committees, both houses of the legislature, and the governor—before becoming law, local laws often are proposed and enacted very quickly.  As a result, retailers and wholesalers often have little or no time to share the perspective of business owners and local employers.

Why Unfair Local Regulation of Tobacco Products Matter to You

Additional state or local sales bans, and advertising and marketing restrictions at the point of sale can block the legitimate promotion of tobacco products, interfere with the ability to communicate with adult tobacco consumers about specific tobacco brands, and place additional burdens on retail establishments, especially small businesses, who already have to comply with a multitude of rigorous laws and requirements.

  • Once passed, these local laws can subject retailers who operate stores in multiple jurisdictions to a patchwork of different laws and regulations, significantly increasing compliance costs and subjecting retailers to possible fines and other penalties.
  • Sales bans and restrictions can place local retailers at a severe disadvantage from their competitors in nearby towns.  If adult tobacco consumers are denied the opportunity to identify the tobacco products they wish to purchase or are prohibited from buying a preferred flavored tobacco product, some may shift their purchases to nearby stores in other jurisdictions that don’t have these restrictions. While there, they would likely purchase other items like bread, milk, and household items on which stores depend.
  • Tobacco products display bans, which require a retailer to keep tobacco products out of sight from consumers, violate a retailer’s constitutional rights. A retailer’s display of a lawful product for sale is commercial speech and is protected by the First Amendment. Displaying a product in a retail store informs consumers that the product is for sale, communicates product attributes, and allows adult consumers to differentiate between products.

Food and Drug Administration Regulation

In June 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA), granting the FDA federal regulatory authority over tobacco products. Under this law, FDA was granted authority to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, “roll-your-own” tobacco and smokeless tobacco products.  However, the law allows the FDA to extend its authority to regulate other tobacco products, including cigars and pipe tobacco.  The implementation of the FSPTCA is taking place over time. Some provisions took effect immediately while other provisions require the FDA to take action through rulemaking, which generally involves public comment and scientific review.

In 2016, the FDA extended its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including cigars, e-vapor products, and other products containing tobacco derived nicotine.


Help Stop Suffolk County from Increasing the Legal Age to 25

The Suffolk County Legislature is considering a Local Law to increase the legal age of purchase for tobacco products from 21 to 25 years old.   

Raising the legal age to 25 years old would create inconsistencies with how the state and federal government define adulthood for most every purpose, such as purchasing alcohol.  

The legal age is already 21 years old and this law would have many unintended consequences. Tell your Legislators you oppose this Local Law and any other attempts to unfairly target adult tobacco consumers.  

Your Voice Can Make a Difference. Contact Your County Legislator Today.  

Feel free to edit the letter on the next page and press “Send” to deliver the message to your Legislator.

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A Phoenix City Councilmember stated he will introduce a TOTAL flavor ban on all tobacco products – including menthol cigarettes, flavored dip, and flavored cigars!

A total flavor ban would threaten many local businesses like yours across the city. This unfair ordinance could be introduced soon. Please speak up and tell the City Council that if adult customers can’t buy their preferred tobacco products in your store, many will go just outside of the city or to tribal reservation stores to get them.

Take action today! With just a few clicks, you can send the City Council a message.  

Feel free to edit the letter on the next page and then press “Send” to deliver the message to City Council.

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