Last Thursday, July 18, 2019, Mark Herring, Virginia’s Attorney General, called again for marijuana regulatory reform in light of new data showing arrests rose in the Commonwealth last year. The Attorney General noted that in 2018 marijuana arrests accounted for 59 percent of all drug arrests in Virginia.  Herring favors the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana, action to address past convictions for simple possession and a move towards legal and regulated adult use in Virginia.  The Attorney General’s press release was followed the next day by a tweet from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also urging the decriminalization of marijuana.
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On July 11, a federal judge issued an important ruling that dramatically advances submission deadlines for premarket review of tobacco products.  As a function of that ruling, the deadline for applications for FDA premarket review of “deemed” tobacco products (including cigars, pipe tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)) is now May 11, 2020.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently announced that he, along with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), have filed a new, bipartisan bill in Congress to raise the nationwide legal age to purchase tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. The bill, currently titled the “Tobacco-Free Youth Act,” would require all states to pass laws raising the minimum age to purchase cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and other tobacco products to 21. The bill would compel each state to pass individual laws or risk losing substance abuse prevention and treatment funding.
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House Energy and Commerce Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) recently introduced H.R. 2339, a comprehensive bill seeking to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the sale and marketing of tobacco products. The legislation, currently titled the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019, is a broad bill that covers many of the legislative movements and trends seen in recent years concerning the sale and marketing of tobacco products. This bill reflects an attempt to combine the various issues into one comprehensive piece of legislation ostensibly intended to limit youth tobacco access.
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A bill, H.R.7337 – the Stop Tobacco Sales to Youth Act of 2018, was introduced in Congress recently to amend the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (“PACT”) Act to include electronic cigarettes and pipe tobacco. The PACT Act currently requires Internet sellers of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to pay applicable excise and sales taxes as if the sale were a face-to-face transaction, prohibits using U.S. Mail for these sales, and requires age verification.
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Louisiana has redefined “vapor products” to include nicotine and non-nicotine products. The law became effective on May 30, 2018 when Governor John Bel Edwards signed HB239.

The definitional change applies to laws banning sales to minors, requiring retail permitting and prohibiting self-service displays and vending machines except under limited circumstances.
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In connection with the FDA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) addressing flavored tobacco products, a group of State Attorneys General has recommended that the agency ban all flavored tobacco products.  In their comments on the ANPR, the Attorneys General of New York, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island assert that the FDA should ban flavors (including menthol) in all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and electronic nicotine delivery systems (“ENDS”).  The existing flavor ban applies only to “characterizing” flavors in cigarettes, and allows for mentholated cigarettes.
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Legislators in New York are looking to pass a bill that would ban the sale of flavored e-liquid tobacco products.

Sponsored by New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, Senate Bill S8610 looks to “eliminate the temptation for young people in New York State to try flavored electronic cigarettes and in turn reduce the number of people who become regular users of tobacco products” by prohibiting the sale and distribution of flavored e-liquids used in electronic cigarettes.
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