Tobacco bill updates go into effect in August

A new bill passed last month by the Minnesota Senate and House updates the state’s tobacco laws. It takes effect Aug. 1, 2010.

The Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act of 2010, signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in May, makes sure tobacco cessation products won’t be taxed as tobacco products, among other changes.

“This is an issue where legislators on both sides of the aisle agreed that more control is needed over these products,” said Brenda Woytassek, chemical health coordinator at Wilkin County Public Health. According to the Public Health Law Center, it also narrows youth access to tobacco by prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes and any nicotine delivery products to minors.

The bill includes regulations on new smokeless tobacco products, which may attract youth because of the low cost and resemblance to breath mints.

“Anything that can help keep youth off tobacco, or have access to tobacco products, is a good thing,” said Woytassek.

Any business that sells tobacco products here under the age of 18 can get a fine and risk license suspension.

Minors who possess, buy or attempt to buy tobacco products are guilty of a petty misdemeanor.

Little cigars, or cigarette replicas that get billed “cigars” because tobacco is blended into the rolling paper, will fall under the new law, too.

As the tobacco was considered to be a cigar before, it could avoid cigarette taxes and other regulations.

For little cigars that cost less than $2.73, there will be a tax increase of $1.91, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.


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