The issue: Some politicians are trying to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products and menthol cigarettes!
In recent years, local governments have proposed menthol cigarette bans and flavor bans on other tobacco products.
-These proposals range from total sales bans to limits on where menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco can be sold – such as limiting their sale to 21+ establishments.
-Other proposals would restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes or flavored tobacco products in certain geographic regions within a county or municipality.
-These regulations are usually considered by city or county councils and sometimes the process for consideration and final vote can move very quickly.
Why states and localities should not pass this law/ordinance:
-Menthol and flavor bans 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.
-A menthol ban could also result in adverse and unintended consequences, such as the creation of a black market for menthol cigarettes. The development of illicit trade channels threatens to undo gains in preventing underage access to tobacco products.
-Banning the sale of these products to your adult customers just isn’t fair, plain and simple. Instead of a ban depriving adult tobacco consumers of products they want, the focus should remain on responsible marketing, responsible sale at retail, and reducing underage access to tobacco products.
-In 2009, Congress enacted a national ban on cigarettes with flavors other than tobacco or menthol and also gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. States and local governments should defer to the FDA on the regulation of menthol and flavored tobacco.
What you can do to make a difference
-Call, write, or reach your legislators on their social media properties – tell them your story.
What you can do to REALLY make a difference:
-Publish an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor in a local newspaper.
-Testify at a public hearing about the negative impact that this proposal will have on legitimate businesses in your state.
Not sure about speaking out publically? Thousands of small business-people do it all of the time and it works!
State legislatures across the country spend thousands of hours each year seeking public input on the public policies they are deciding. Public hearings are an important way to ensure your voice is heard and the interests of small business owners are protected by your elected officials. You cannot expect lawmakers to understand how their regulatory and legislative decisions impact our business and your local economy if you do not speak out.
Below are some resources to help you get prepared to testify before your elected officials.
What to Expect When Testifying at a Public Hearing
A public hearing is an important step in the process of making laws. Below is a look at the typical process public hearings follow. Please note that the information below is a general guide, and may vary legislature to legislature.
-One of the committee’s chairpersons will preside over the hearing. This lawmaker will set the rules and call speakers to testify. The speakers are typically called in the order in which their names appear on the signup sheet, but some chairpersons may alternate between supporters and opponents of the issue.
-Sit at the speaker’s desk when it is your turn to testify.
-Present your oral remarks within the announced time limits.
-When you finish, remain at the microphone for a moment in case committee members want to ask questions.
Preparing Your Testimony
Components to include in your testimony:
-Thank the chair of the committee for the opportunity to testify. Please refer to the committee chair as Madam Chair or Mr. Chairman (as appropriate).
-Introduce yourself, including your name and the company you represent.
-State the name of the bill or issue you are testifying in regards to and whether your support or oppose.
-The main body of your testimony should include details on how the proposed policy would directly or indirectly affect your business. Include facts and supporting data if available.
-Be clear and concise when asking the committee to take action on the issue.
-Arrive at least 5 to 10 minutes prior to the start of the hearing.
-Bring copies of your testimony for circulation to committee members.
-Prepare you written testimony first as this can be the longest. You may only have a few minutes to present your oral testimony, so you want to focus only on the key points of your written testimony.
-Speak respectfully, even if you disagree with their proposed policy recommendations.
-If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit it. Then ask permission to write a detailed response at a later date.
-Please give your courteous attention to other speakers, regardless of their views.
-Do not applaud or show displeasure with anyone’s remarks.
If you would like additional information, click HERE.