State Legislative Action Update

E-cig regulations gain traction, minimum age increases fail

Published in Tobacco E-News

By  Thomas A. Briant, Executive Director

MINNEAPOLIS -- With some state legislatures already adjourning their 2014 legislative sessions and other states nearing adjournment, there are varying outcomes on bills to increase cigarette and tobacco taxes, assess a tax on electronic cigarettes, prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and raise the legal age to purchase tobacco product. A state-by-state update on bills, which have either been passed and signed into law or failed due to a vote or the adjournment of a state legislative session, is as follows:

Alabama: House Bill 404 was signed by the governor and assesses the following taxes: (1) a tax on little cigars (and filtered cigars as defined in the bill) weighing not more than three pounds per 1,000 at a tax rate of four cents per each 10 cigars; (2) a tax on filtered cigars weighing more than three pound per 1,000 would be 1.5 cents for each filtered cigar; and (3) a tax on all other cigars would be $40.50 per thousand or 4.05 cents each. The bill would require retailers to retain purchase invoices for 90 days at the retail location. 

Colorado: A bill that sought to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21 was not approved by the state legislature.

Georgia: The governor signed House Bill 251 that prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes, alternative nicotine products and vapor products to minors.

Hawaii: A number of bills being considered by the Hawaii legislature have failed. First, a bill that would have imposed a tax on electronic cigarettes at a rate equal to the wholesale cost of an e-cigarette did not pass the legislature. Also, House Bill 2133 that would increase the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 failed. A couple of bills that would have prohibited the sale of flavored tobacco products did not pass the legislature. Finally, House Bill 2321 and Senate Bill 2871, which would have banned the use of e-cigarettes in most public places, failed to be passed by legislative committees.

Indiana: House Bill 1174 that would have included e-cigarettes within the state’s current definition of “tobacco products” and subject e-cigarettes to Indiana’s 24% tax on tobacco products did not pass the legislature.

Kentucky: Senate Bill 109 was signed by the governor and prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to individuals under the age of 18.

Maryland: House Bill 278 and Senate Bill 325 that would have raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21 did not pass.

Nebraska: Legislative Bill L863 was signed by the governor on April 9 and would prohibit self-service displays of cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products, but an exemption allows self-service displays of these tobacco products in tobacco stores and cigar bars.

Oregon: House Bill 4129 proposed to increase the cigarette tax rate by 30 cednts per pack, raise the OTP tax to 81.25%, and tax e-cigarettes at the same 81.25% rate. The bill died in committee due to adjournment of the Oregon legislature.

South Dakota: The governor signed Senate Bill 181 that prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes, alternative nicotine products and vapor products to minors.

Tennessee: House Bill 2096 and Senate Bill 2447, which proposed a 44 cents per pack cigarette tax increase, did not pass the legislature.

Utah: Senate Bill 12 which would have raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products from the current age of 19 to 21 years old failed to pass the legislature.

Virginia: The governor signed House Bill 218 and Senate Bill 96 that prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes, alternative nicotine products and vapor products to minors.

Washington: Three different House and Senate bills that sought to assess a 95% tax on e-cigarettes have all failed due to the Washington legislature adjourning for the year.

Wisconsin: Senate Bill 481 that would have increased the excise tax on other tobacco products from 71 to 84% and eliminate the current cigar tax cap of 50 cents per cigar failed to pass. Senate Bill 303 that would have banned the sale of novelty lighters to minors and restrict access to these products in retail stores failed to pass. Also, Senate Bill 440 that would have exempted e-cigarette use from the current ban on smoking in public places did not pass the legislature.