Tennessee Legislative Update

On Tuesday, February 26, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee is scheduled to vote on Senate Bill 1200 by Sen. Shane Reeves that would raise the state's minimum legal sale age of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. The American Heart Association, along with the Tennessee Tobacco-Free Coalition, strongly supports this legislation.

hero_image_alt_text===It's time to raise the age for tobacco 21
thumbnail_alt_text===Tennessee state capitol

What sets Senate Bill 1200 apart from other Tobacco 21 bills is that it redefines tobacco and “vapor/vaping” in Tennessee code to ensure e-cigarettes are not sold to anyone under 21. Plus, it focuses on the sale, not the purchase, of tobacco and e-cigarette products by:

  • Removing penalties on youth who purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products; 
  • Requiring all retail establishments that sell tobacco and e-cigarette products to be licensed by the state; and 
  • Addressing enforcement of the policy.

The committee is also slated to hear a number of other tobacco-related bills, which we are monitoring. Those bills are (drum roll, please): 

  • SB0026/HB0097
    Sponsors: Sen. Todd Gardenhire/Rep. Dan Howell
    Summary: Adds products that can be used to produce or emit a visible or non-visible vapor to the definition of "vapor product" under the "Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco and Vapor Products Act." Limits the places in which one may use vapor products under the "Children's Act for Clean Indoor Air" to those places where smoking is currently prohibited, including child care centers, group care homes, and public schools.
  • SB0280/HB0764
    Sponsors: Sen. Rosalind Kurita/Rep. Iris Rudder
    Summary: Increases age restrictions for tobacco and vapor-related products from 18 years of age to 21 years of age.
  • SB0301/HB1456
    Sponsors: Sen. Rosalind Kurita/Rep. Bob Ramsey
    Summary: Prohibits smoking and vaping in a motor vehicle when a child who is secured in a child safety seat or required to be secured in a child safety seat is present in the vehicle.
  • SB0360/HB1284
    Sponsors: Sen. Steve Southerland/Rep. Bo Mitchell
    Summary: Expands the Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco and Vapor Products Act to apply to hemp for smoking.
  • SB0701/HB606
    Sponsors: Sen. John Stevens/Rep. Rick Tillis
    Summary: Changes the time in which a licensee engaged in the selling, distributing, or handling tobacco products must notify the revenue commissioner of, in writing, any change in information the licensee is required to include in its license application to 15 calendar days.
  • SB0738/HB1419
    Sponsors: Sen. Sara Kyle/Rep. Joe Towns, Jr.
    Summary: Increases the minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase any tobacco or vapor products. Creates a Class C misdemeanor offense of selling or distributing any flavored electronic cigarettes. Creates a rebuttable presumption that an electronic cigarette is flavored if a manufacturer or any of the manufacturer's agents or employees has made a statement or claim directed to consumers or to the public that the electronic cigarette has or produces a characterizing flavor, including, but not limited to, text, color, or images on the product's labeling or packaging that are used to explicitly or implicitly communicate that the electronic cigarette has a characterizing flavor. Increases the tax rate on cigarettes by 1.25 cents per cigarette.
  • SB0849/HB1459
    Sponsors: Sen. Joey Hensley/Rep. Ron Gant
    Summary: Raises the age to access or use tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age.
  • SB0932/HB1335
    Sponsors: Sen. Jon Lundberg/Rep. Mark Cochran
    Summary: Authorizes any municipality, county, airport authority, or certain utility districts to regulate the use of tobacco products in public places, places of employment, and parks. Specifies that a regulation implemented pursuant to this bill by a local government entity shall not be less restrictive than that required by state law.

Stay tuned for future You're the Cure alerts on policy updates from the state capitol, as we strive to help Tennesseans lead longer, healthier lives.

Julie Howell, Grassroots Manager, contributed to the blog post.

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