State Tobacco Legislative Update

Actions centers on tax increases, purchase age and e-cigs

Published in Tobacco E-News

By  Thomas A. Briant, Executive Director

MINNEAPOLIS -- With the New Year now underway and state legislative sessions beginning to convene, tobacco-related legislative bills have begun to be introduced, including bills that seek to impose a tax on electronic cigarettes. A summary of the tobacco bills introduced in state legislatures during 2014 is as follows:

Alabama:  House Bill 39 raises the state cigarette tax from 42.5 cents/pack to 75 cents/pack. Senate Bill 168 imposes statewide smoking restrictions, while excluding the use of e-cigarettes from the smoking ban regulations.

Hawaii:  House Bill 1522 prohibits the sale and distribution of menthol flavored cigarettes. Senate Bill 2029 raises the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 years old to 21 years old. Senate Bill 2212 prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products. Senate Bill 2222 bans the sale of any flavored tobacco product, including menthol flavored products and flavored e-cigarettes.

Indiana:  House Bill 1174 includes e-cigarettes within the state’s current definition of “tobacco products” which means e-cigarettes would be subject to Indiana’s 24% tax on tobacco products.

Kentucky:  House Bill 220 imposes a 40% tax rate on e-cigarettes, assesses a one time cigarette tax surcharge of $1.56 per pack, raises the tax on moist snuff to 51 cents per each one and one-half ounces of product, and increases the tax on chewing tobacco to 51 cents per each single unit sold.

New Jersey:  Assembly Bill 1308 increases the tax on little cigars to equal the tax rate imposed on cigarettes (which is $2.70 per pack). Assembly Bill 2021 reduces the cigarette tax rate by 30 cents/pack. Senate Bill 602 raises the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21.

New York:  Senate Bill 6255 exempts e-cigarettes from state taxation. Assembly Bill 6393 increases the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 19. Assembly Bill 7105 and Senate Bill 4863 raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. Assembly Bill 1179 and Senate Bill 5686 bans the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Oklahoma:  House Bill 2989 imposes a 30% tax rate on e-cigarettes.

Rhode Island:  Governor Lincoln Chaffee introduced his Fiscal Year 2015 budget that includes e-cigarettes within the state’s current definition of “tobacco products” which means e-cigarettes would be subject to Rhode Island’s 80% tax on tobacco products.

Utah:  Senate Bill 12 raises the legal age to purchase for cigarettes, tobacco products and e-cigarettes from the current 19 years old to 21 years old.

Vermont:  House Bill 605 raises the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.