June 1998
Volume 25
Number 3

by Craig Diamond

A series of bills facing the Florida legislature threatens to institute sweeping smoking restrictions statewide in Florida. The Florida Restaurant Association, which can be reached at (850) 224-2250, is actively fighting these proposals.Meanwhile, Massachusetts continues to take the national lead in proposed packaging labeling, effectively setting minimum national standards. Other initiatives include:

  • H4773 would amend provisions of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act to reduce the percentage of seats required to be in an area designated as a smoking area in certain restaurants; HB3379 would amend the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, establishing minimum statewide codes which local municipalities could preempt with more restrictive codes.


  • S307 would prohibit the sale or distribution of cigarettes in units of less than 20 cigarettes and would provide a civil penalty for violations of not less than $100, nor more than $500 for retailers, and not less than $1,000, nor more than $2,500 for distributors.


  • SB55 defines retail dealers who qualify as a tobacconist at a particular retail outlet. "Tobacconist at a particular retail outlet" means a retail dealer engaged in receiving bulk smoking tobacco for the purpose of blending such tobacco for retail sale at a particular retail outlet where fifty percent or more of the total annual purchases for the preceding twelve months were purchases of tobacco products, excluding cigarettes. Authorizes the purchase of tobacco products by "tobacconist at a particular retail outlet" directly from manufacturers, wholesalers, or other suppliers.
  • H156 would increase the cigarette excise tax by 70 cents (from 20 to 90 cents) per pack;
  • H215 would increase the cigarette excise tax by 55 cents (from 20 to 75 cents) per pack, thereafter adjusted for inflationary changes at five-year intervals; would link the tax to the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers;
  • H237 would levy a 39.7 percent tax on smokeless tobacco (defined as including but not limited to fine cut, long cut, packed in pouches, snuff, snuff lower, chewing tobacco, cavendish, plugs, twists, shorts, refuse and other scraps, clippings and sweepings of tobacco, and other forms of loose tobacco, articles and products made of tobacco, or tobacco substitute);
  • H242 would levy a 39.7 percent tax on cigars, upon the sale, use, consumption, handling, or distribution of all cigars, cigarettes, and smoking tobacco. Present law levies a tax of eight percent of the invoice price on cigars invoiced at $120 per thousand or less, and a tax of 20 percent of the invoice price at those invoiced at $120 or more;
  • H194 would increase the tax on cigarettes, cigars, and smoking tobacco. Would increase the cigarette excise tax by 40 cents (from 20 to 60 cents) per pack; proposes an increase of the tax to 20 percent (up from eight percent) of the invoice price of cigars invoiced at $120 per 1,000 or less; proposes an increase of the tax to 60 percent (up from 20 percent) of the invoice price of cigars invoiced at more than $120 per 1,000; proposes a tax increase to 99 percent (up from 33 percent) of the invoice price on smoking tobacco.


  • S2194 would require warning labels to be placed on cigars and would require disclosure of nicotine yield ratings and added constituents. "Cigars" would mean any manufactured roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in any substance containing tobacco, but not including cigars wrapped by hand. "Package" would mean any container or wrapping in which cigars are enclosed for use and display or delivery to retail purchasers, but would not include shipping containers or wrappings used solely for the transportation of cigars in bulk or in quantity to manufacturers, packers, or wholesale or retail distributors.

    New Hampshire

  • H1681 would increase the cigarette excise tax by 23 cents (from 37 to 60 cents) per pack. Would increase the excise tax on cigars, snuff, products containing tobacco, and tobacco in any other form, as well as smokeless tobacco.

    New York

  • A10679 and companion bill S6903 would impose restrictions on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products near facilities serving minors and would prohibit advertising and distribution within 1,000 feet of such facilities. It would also require the removal of advertisements and cessation of promotions and provide civil penalties for violations.
  • A10200 would increase the presumptive minimum sales price for cigarettes at the retail and wholesale level for agents. Would increase a Cigarette Tax Enforcement Fund and create a Youth Smoking Awareness Fund. Would require both such funds to consist of monthly payments made by agents doing business in the state.


  • H2547 would authorize counties to impose optional local cigarette excise taxes at the rate of 50 cents per pack and would earmark new county revenues to their respective County Cigarette Tax Funds.

    Rhode Island

  • S2577 relates to unfair sales and practices of tobacco products. Would increase the markup price for the sale of tobacco products from six percent to 20 percent for retailers and would increase the markup price for the sale of tobacco products from two percent to three percent for wholesalers.


  • H1585 would eliminate the sales tax on tobacco products.


  • H1746 requires retailers to display a sign stating the prohibition of tobacco sales to individuals under the age of 18. (Approved by the Governor on March 25.)