Tobacco’s Year in Review

2012 can be defined as the year in which only several states put into law higher cigarette taxes, many cities and counties took into account implementing local prohibitions on tobacco products, and the FDA continued its regulatory steps.

Opened Cigarette Pack

A pack of cigarettes

NATO Local Project: NATO answered to over 50 local tobacco prohibitions and laws in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.  As a result of NATO’s participation in these ordinances, 66 percent of the proposed rules and prohibitions were either not implemented or changed to be less problematic and less restrictive.

Advertising Ban Stuck Down: A federal district court judge together with NATO as the major part in a lawsuit against the City of Worcester, Mass. struck down the city’s cigarette advertising ban ordinance that would have banned outdoor cigarette ads and in-store tobacco ads that could be observed from a public street.

Flavor Ban and Coupon/Promotion Ban: NATO and other plaintiffs sued Providence, R.I., trying to overturn an ordinance that prohibited the sale of a number of flavored tobacco products and a second ordinance that banned tobacco-coupon redemption and limited multi-pack tobacco discounts. A federal district court judge lately released a decision maintaining the ordinances.

State Tobacco Legislation: From the 23 states that suggested increasing cigarette and/or OTP tax rates, 3 states approved tobacco-related tax hikes. The states implementing higher tax rates involve Illinois ($1/pack cigarette increase tax); Maryland (increased cigar tax to 70%, except for on premium cigars); and Rhode Island (raised cigarette tax by 4 cents/pack).

Membership Growth: NATO retail membership carried on to expand with about 25,000 cigarette stores, supermarkets, stations, and liquor stores now NATO members.

Public Relations: NATO expanded its public relations activity in 2012 by giving commentary letters-to-the-editor opposing either cigarette tax hikes or local tobacco ordinances to newspaper publishers in Alabama, Illinois, Florida, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Virginia and Worcester. A countrywide press release was also released helping a research carried out by Congress of the incorrect use of federal stimulus grant resources by local governments to lobby for passage of tobacco-related prohibitions.

Meeting with FDA: In June NATO staff discussed with Center for Tobacco Products representatives self-service displays in age-restricted tobacco shops, retail training requirements and the FDA’s proposed “Potential Tobacco Product Violations Report” form.

FDA Places Time of Compliance Inspections on Notices: At NATO’s recommendation, the FDA has started including the time that a FDA retail compliance inspection occurs at a retail shop on warning letters consequently provided for a retailer, which helps in deciding the employee(s) working at the time of the inspection.

FDA’s “Potential Tobacco Product Violations Report” Form: NATO passed two times of comments from association members being against the FDA’s proposal to permit the public to claim a potential violation of federal tobacco rules. The federal Office of Management and Budget consequently authorized the FDA’s use of the “Potential Tobacco Product Violation” form.

NATO Show 2012: The NATO Show took place in April 2012, and the entire exhibit hall at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas was sold out, offering retail attendees several exhibitors to look at tobacco products and smoking accessories. The 2013 NATO Show will take place April 22-24 in Las Vegas.

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