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Keeping up with tobacco

Published (4/29/2010)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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Holding a pack of  what is known as “little cigars,“ Thomas Briant, executive director of the Minnesota Wholesale Marketers Association, tells the House Taxes Committee April 28 that a bill to change excise taxation and the regulation of tobacco products could cost the state revenue. Rep. Jim Davnie, right, sponsors the bill. Listening to the testimony are Rep. Debra Hilstrom and Rep. Loren Solberg. (Photo by Tom Olmscheid)Minnesota’s tobacco laws are not keeping up with the creativity and marketing of new tobacco products.

From strips that melt in your mouth to orbs that look like Tic-Tacs, users can get a nicotine bump anytime, anywhere and undetected. Supporters of new regulations fear these products could lure in a whole new generation of tobacco users.

Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls) sponsors HF3467, the Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act of 2010, that would close the loophole on products that supporters say target the younger generation.

The bill would regulate these products similar to the way cigarettes and cigars now are. It would also apply to electronic cigarettes and candy- or fruit-flavored “little cigars” that are similar in size to cigarettes, but because of their design are not as regulated and cost less.

The bill was held over by the House Taxes Committee for possible omnibus bill inclusion.

A companion, SF3055, sponsored by Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), was passed 63-4 by the Senate Wednesday.

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