Website Assists Retailers Comply With New Law

On June 6, 2016, the California Department of Public Health posted significant information to its Tobacco21 website, linked HERE, designed to help tobacco retailers navigate significant new regulation of tobacco and related products.

On May 4, ending speculation and a minor political drama, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a package of measures that, among other things, raises the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21 and brings additional products under STAKE Act regulation. The measures take effect June 9, 2016.

The bills were passed in an Extraordinary Session called by the Governor to address health care financing. During debate on the measure, news broke in the media that lobbyists for the bill’s opponents had threatened to launch a referendum on the measure if it became law.

In response, the Legislature held the bill for approximately 43 days passage working to essentially run the clock out on any attempted referendum making the ballot in November. The Governor, in turn, waited his full 12-day allotment before signing the bill further complicating any attempt to overturn the new law in November.

CGA did not weigh in on the bills themselves, but tobacco retailers should be mindful of the short timeline for implementation. CGA has been working with the Department of Public Health to push for release of modifications to required signage and other compliance tools for tobacco retailers.

In addition, on June 6, in partnership with other associations representing tobacco retailers, CGA submitted a letter to the Department of Public Health requesting a delay in enforcement given the extremely short timeframe tobacco retailers have to retrain employees, reprogram POS systems, and produce and post new signage. A response to that request has not yet been received.