Tougher tobacco laws take effect Sundayby Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Children will no longer be able to purchase candy-flavored "little cigars" and several other tobacco products, under a new state law scheduled to take effect this Sunday.
The law expands the state's definition of tobacco and tobacco products to include new nicotine-laced products that many say are being deliberately marketed to children.
Under the revised definition, stores that carry items like Camel Orbs, a dissolvable tablet designed to resemble a breath mint, will have to keep the products behind the checkout counter and won't be able to sell them to minors.
"I think the intent of the law had been for a long time just to keep tobacco out of the hands of kids, for really good reasons, and the law just wasn't robust enough to deal with this next iteration of products that the tobacco companies were coming up with," said DFL state Sen. Scott Dibble, one of the primary authors of the new Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act.
Most of the nicotine-laced items will also be subject to state tobacco taxes, with the exception of "little cigars" -- candy-flavored products that looks like cigarettes, but have tobacco in the rolling paper.
Dibble said that cigar companies successfully lobbied against subjecting "little cigars" to state tobacco taxes, but he said he hopes that the legislature will reconsider the issue next year.
"It was, interestingly, kind of the feel-good bill of the year," Dibble said. "Other than the cigar controversy, the tobacco companies didn't show up in opposition.
"I think they probably knew that they would lose the argument very, very quickly. It's indefensible to put little candy-type products that are tobacco out on the shelves."
Dibble said other states are considering similar legislation.
- Morning Edition, 07/30/2010, 6:20 a.m.