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Local Tobacco Ordinances: What Retailers Need to Know

In the most recent sign of a growing trend, Aspen, Colorado, recently raised the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21. Though most of the country still adheres to the 18-and-over rule for tobacco purchases, changes to the selling age and other guidelines are happening at the local level. In 2016, more than 700 local tobacco-related ordinances were up for consideration, with California, Minnesota, and Massachusetts being the most active. 

 

Some of the proposals under consideration concern the sale of flavored tobacco products, minimum package sizes for cigars, and minimum retail pricing. 

 

Most of these measures are being introduced as ways of curbing underage tobacco consumption. However, these restrictions ignore the fact that as many as 86% of underage smokers obtain tobacco from adults, rather than directly from a retailer. 

 

Tom Briant, of NATO (National Association of Tobacco Outlets), believes that education is a better path towards cutting down on underage tobacco consumption. He argues that “an educational campaign is needed to change societal attitudes that it is not permissible for adults to legally obtain tobacco products and then improperly provide those same tobacco products to underage persons.” 

 

It remains to be seen whether this approach will gain traction, but in the meantime, retailers must be on their toes. How can you protect yourself as a store owner or manager? Most importantly, brush up on the ordinances in EVERY city where you have a store. If you own gas stations in Colorado, you now must have a different set of rules and compliance training for stores in Aspen versus stores in Denver or Colorado Springs. Follow along on our blog and social media to be kept abreast of important developments, too. And signing up with The BARS Program is a great step towards achieving compliance no matter the local rules. 

 

Have additional questions about local versus state and federal laws governing the sale of age-sensitive products? We’re always happy to discuss: reach us at customerservice@barsprogram.com or 1-877-540-5500.

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