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.