Legislative Engagement in THR and YTP
RAI and its operating companies are committed to strengthening state and federal efforts to accelerate the decline in youth tobacco use. We educate federal, state and local legislators on our youth tobacco prevention efforts and it is our belief that all states should have laws covering a broad spectrum of youth tobacco prevention mechanisms.
We also continue to engage with legislators and regulators to support appropriate legislation and regulation covering the broad spectrum of tobacco product categories. We believe there needs to be greater awareness of the relative risks of different tobacco product categories. We believe that states considering taxing vapor products should set the tax rate commensurate with vapor’s risk profile, so that taxation is not an impediment to adult smokers who might consider switching from combustible tobacco to vapor products.
We are proud of advancements made in youth tobacco prevention legislation in 2015, including the successful passage of youth tobacco prevention vapor laws in seven states. Two RAI-supported bills were adopted as suggested state legislation by a prestigious national policy group, The Council of State Governments. These bills, in Arkansas and North Dakota, both prohibit sale, purchase and possession of tobacco products by minors, and require child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine containers used to fill/refill vapor products. The Arkansas bill also requires registration of vapor retailers and manufacturers.
In 2015, both Tennessee and Wyoming passed tobacco harm reduction laws. These laws serve as a model for the development and implementation of programs incorporating the use of peer-reviewed and science-based educational materials on tobacco harm reduction, and the comparative risks of different tobacco product categories. Both laws also expand youth tobacco prevention regulations to include vapor products, providing states with a model for the integration of youth tobacco prevention and tobacco harm reduction strategies.
In 2015, we hosted two booths at the National Conference of State Legislators to inform legislators about issues we believe are critical to the industry: youth tobacco prevention vapor laws and illicit trade of tobacco. About 650 legislators visited our booths, learning how implementing appropriate restrictions on vapor sale/usage and combatting illicit trade can help prevent youth tobacco use. Legislators also learned how high taxes can present a barrier that prevents adult smokers from considering switching to products that we believe present less risk than cigarettes.