A group of delegates in the Virginia General Assembly have filed bills that will seek to increase the ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in the state, as well as require that all tobacco retailers obtain a new license while more than tripling tax on cigars and other tobacco products.
HB 1120 proposes an increase on the state’s tobacco taxes, calling for an increase from the current rate for cigars and non-cigarette products of 10 percent of the wholesale price to 39 percent of the wholesale price. In the case of a cigar with an MSRP of $9.50, the price at the register would go from $10.45 to $13.21, by halfwheel estimates. It would also increase the tax on cigarettes from 1.5 cents to 9 cents, or a per pack increase from 30 cents to $1.80. Revenues from the tax would be directed to the state’s department of health as well as initiatives to reduce youth access to tobacco, retailers education and the state’s general fund.
HB 1119 seeks a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products in the state, defined as “any tobacco product that imparts a taste or smell, other than the taste or smell of tobacco, that is distinguishable by an ordinary consumer either prior to or during the consumption of the tobacco product including any taste or smell relating to menthol, mint, wintergreen, chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, honey, or any candy, fruit, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb, or spice.”
It calls for fines of up to $500 for the first violation, $1,000 for a second violation, $1,500 for a third violation, and $2,000 for the fourth or subsequent violation, as well as possible license revocation.
Finally, retailers would be required to obtain a new license in order to continue to selling tobacco products under HB 1283, and would require retailer be at least 1,000 feet of a youth-oriented facility. It also prohibits the sale of tobacco products from vending machines, and would require that every tobacco retailer be subject to at least two compliance checks per year, using a person under 21 who attempts to purchase a tobacco product.
The bills were announced by Del. Patrick Hope, D-47, and Del. Cliff Hayes, D-77, at a press conference on Thursday.