In a prior update, we discussed the ongoing legal challenges to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) March 2020 rule on a graphic-warning requirement for cigarettes. Initially slated to take effect June 18, 2021, the rule would require 11 new textual, health warning statements accompanied by color, “photorealistic” images displayed on the top

In determining whether the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits a state’s taxation of a remote seller, the U.S. Supreme Court for decades has upheld a tax if (1) there is a substantial nexus between the taxing state and the taxpayer; (2) the tax is fairly apportioned; (3) the tax does not discriminate against interstate commerce; and (4) the tax is fairly related to the taxing state’s provision of services to the taxpayer.[1]

What kind of nexus is substantial enough to allow a state to tax a business’s sales in interstate commerce? In its 2018 decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court held that a business’s physical presence in the taxing state is not required.[2] Describing the remote-seller litigants as “large, national companies that undoubtedly maintain an extensive virtual presence,” the Court held that substantial nexus was clear in view of “both the economic and virtual contacts” that the remote-seller litigants had with South Dakota.[3] The U.S. Supreme Court recited the general rule that substantial nexus exists when a taxpayer has availed itself of the substantial privilege of carrying on business in the taxing state, and it appeared to describe “virtual contacts” and “virtual presence” as follows: “Between targeted advertising and instant access to most consumers via any internet-enabled device, ‘a business may be present in a State in a meaningful way without’ that presence ‘being physical in the traditional sense of the term.’”[4] Wayfair left many questions unanswered, including whether (and, if so, how) “virtual contacts” and “virtual presence” may be required for a substantial nexus to tax in compliance with the commerce clause.

Continue Reading State Taxation of Remote Sellers: US Supreme Court Declines Review of First Post-Wayfair Decision from a State Supreme Court

The Department has issued updated guidance addressing remote sellers’ cigarette and tobacco tax responsibilities after the Minnesota Legislature’s mid-2021 amendments to the State’s cigarette and tobacco tax and tobacco product delivery sales statutes, Congress’ late-2020 amendment of the Jenkins Act, and a 2018 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on permissible state taxation of remote sales.

On May 9, 2022, the Minnesota Department of Revenue (the “Department”) issued Revenue Notice # 22‑02 on remote sellers’ tax payment responsibilities under the State’s cigarette and tobacco tax and tobacco product delivery sales statutes. The notice applies to all delivery sales after December 31, 2021, and it revokes and replaces the Department’s earlier notice on these subjects.
Continue Reading Minnesota Department of Revenue Revokes and Replaces Guidance on Remote Sellers’ Tobacco Tax Responsibilities

Last year we reported that Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan’s office settled with several online sellers over alleged violations of the state’s delivery sales ban of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) (the Delivery Sale Ban) and that we expected Vermont’s scrutiny to continue. As predicted, Attorney General Donovan’s office recently announced two more settlements with online sellers, resulting in a total of 23 settlements with online ENDS sellers for a total of $833,750 in civil penalties dating back to December 2020.
Continue Reading Vermont Continues Its Crackdown on Online ENDS Sellers

On December 9, 2020, the Tennessee Department of Revenue issued its Notice #20-21, on the subject of the State of Tennessee’s excise tax on other tobacco products or “OTP”.  The Notice notes that OTP is defined as “cigars … manufactured tobacco and snuff of all descriptions whether made of tobacco or any substitute for tobacco.”
Continue Reading Tennessee Department of Revenue Clarifies that ENDS, Nicotine Pouches, Smokeable Hemp and Tobacco Substitutes Are Not Subject to OTP Tax

In October 2019, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) issued a blatantly discriminatory Special Notice changing how the CDTFA will apply the excise tax for Other Tobacco Products (OTP) to the wholesaler’s cost basis when an out-of-state California distributor sells tobacco products to wholesalers, retailers, or consumers located in California. When a shipment is made by an out-of-state distributor to an in-state customer (retailer or adult consumer), the tax base will be the “wholesale cost” of the in-state purchaser and not the wholesale cost of the distributor.
Continue Reading California Setting Higher Tobacco Excise Tax Base for Out-of-State Distributors Subject to Legal Challenge on Various Grounds

On October 16, the Montgomery County Council publicly authorized its lawsuit filed in federal court on October 11, against Juul Labs and Altria Group for alleged violations of Maryland and federal law based on claims of aggressive marketing of e-cigarette products to minors.

Council President Nancy Navarro remarked, “The Council authorizes taking legal action against Juul Labs and Altria Group. This lawsuit supports our ongoing efforts to protect our community members from the public health impacts associated with e-cigarette products and vaping.
Continue Reading Montgomery County, Maryland Takes Judicial and Regulatory Action Against E-Cigarette Manufacturers and Distributors

A recent Food and Drug Administration Request for Proposal indicates that the agency is poised to more aggressively ensure that vape shops are satisfying their obligations under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.  The FDA has asked for bids on a third-party contract to inspect vape shops and other companies that manufacture components of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).  The agency is apparently prepared to spend $23 million over a five-year period for these services.
Continue Reading FDA Poised to Crack Down on Vape Shops

Tobacco team members Bryan Haynes and Paige Fitzgerald attended this year’s Annual Conference hosted by the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI) in Washington, DC, on May 4-5, 2017.  Bryan and Paige covered each of the tobacco-related sessions, and wrote an article for the organization’s Update magazine, which covers current regulatory issues of importance to the industry. 
Continue Reading Troutman Tobacco Team’s Article Featured in FDLI’s Update Magazine