A bill making its way through the Virginia Senate would not only shift oversight of tobacco retailers and distributors from the Department of Taxation to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC), but it would create a new licensing requirement for the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to be granted and regulated by the ABC.

In order to obtain and retain the license, distributors and retail dealers would be subject to background and criminal history checks for not only the business owners but every employee who would handle tobacco products. Once licensed, they would have to meet record keeping requirements and would be subject to penalties for violation. The fee being proposed is $100 for a retailer and $700 for a distributor.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Bryce E. Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, who has said the intent is to curb illegal cigarette trafficking, buying cigars in low-tax Virginia and then selling them in higher tax states such as New York.

Senate Bill 1230 heads into February having received the endorsement of the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services, which passed it 14-0 on Jan. 30. It now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.