How scrutiny over flavors and youth access triggered a wider war on tobacco
In this amount of time, President Donald Trump triggered a temporary removal of flavored vaping cartridges and increased the federal minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, and the first statewide ban on menthol-flavored tobacco products became law.
While vaping grabbed most of the headlines, the action on menthol-flavored tobacco and nicotine products in Massachusetts and the increase in the minimum buying age may prove to be more consequential for convenience retailers and businesses all along the tobacco supply chain.
In overall retail sales and volume, vaping today accounts for just 2% of the larger tobacco category, while annually, menthol alone is a $33 billion business, or one-quarter of overall tobacco sales.
Meanwhile, 2% of tobacco customers are 18-20 years old; their absence will compound a series of regulatory decisions that could severely affect retailers’ businesses, according to Statista and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Just how the dominos fell is confounding. The combination of a compressed time frame, a public health scare and Trump’s own chaotic policy style may have set in motion the $1 billion perfect storm of lost excise taxes annually just for menthol products in Massachusetts, according to Governing.com.
Meanwhile, it was a big win for public health advocates and set a chilling precedent for tobacco consumers, the c-store channel and law enforcement having to cope with the consequences.
Angel Abcede and Hannah Prokop – CSP – March 2, 2020.