This week, the Alaksa Legislature gave its approval to SB 45, a bill that raises the minimum age to purchase, sell, exchange, or possess tobacco products and electronic smoking products to 21-years-old, as well as makes changes to the tax rate on electronic smoking products.
For cigar smokers, the most notable change is that the bill will increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 19 to 21-years-old, which would bring the state into alignment with the federal minimum age. As such, it allows state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce the federal minimum age, including fining retailers or others for selling or otherwise providing tobacco products to a person under 21-years-old.
It also amends the state’s minimum age to possess tobacco products to 19-years-old. Violators of that law will be subject to a fine of up to $150.
For retailers, they will now be required to only allow tobacco products to be sold by employees who are at least 21-years-old, unless they were at least 19-years-old at the time the bill goes into effect.
For those who use electronic cigarettes or vaping products, the state has imposed a tax rate of 35 percent of the wholesale price, a notable difference from the state’s tax rate for other tobacco products, which is 75 percent of the wholesale price.
The bill now heads to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for his signature. If the governor does not veto the bill, the changes will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
Update (Aug. 28, 2022) — After a delay due to some manifest errors in the bill, it was finally transmitted to the governor on August 26. Additionally, there was an error in the original version of the story, as the date the bill would go into effect is Jan. 1, 2023, not July 1, 2023 as initially reported. We regret the error.