The Daily Brew: A 50-state comparison of tobacco laws

Welcome to the Monday, June 3, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. With national legislation introduced, we take a 50-state look at tobacco laws
  2. Nevada and Maine reject efforts to join National Popular Vote Interstate Compact
  3. Fifteen candidates running Tuesday to succeed lone Republican on Los Angeles City Council

Just a reminder that on Tuesday I’ll be hosting a webinar with David Luchs—one of our staff writers—about the upcoming mayoral runoff elections on June 8 in Dallas and San Antonio and why local and mayoral races matter. The webinar will take place at noon ET and you can register for free here.

With national legislation introduced, we take a 50-state look at tobacco laws

Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced a bill last month that would increase the federal minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase or use tobacco products. The bill would also raise the minimum age to purchase e-cigarettes and would not prevent states and municipalities from passing more restrictive laws. The proposed legislation also requires states to pass laws raising their minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 by 2021 as a condition for receiving federal substance abuse grants.

Given the national attention to the issue, we wondered what the state-level legal landscape looked like for tobacco legislation. Our team put together a 50-state comparison page. Here are three quick hits.

  • The minimum age to purchase or use of tobacco is currently 21 in six states—California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon.
  • In three states—Alabama, Alaska, Utah—one must be 19 to purchase tobacco. The other 41 states have a minimum smoking age of 18.
  • Governor David Ige (D) signed legislation in June 2015 raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco in Hawaii to 21, making it the first state to do so in the 21st century. Since then, five other states have increased their smoking age to 21. Eight states have enacted similar legislation that has not yet taken effect.

New Jersey was the first state to restrict the sale and use of tobacco by age, setting a minimum age of 16 in 1883. By 1920, 46 of the 48 states had an age requirement for tobacco sales, including 14 with a minimum age of 21. During the period between the world wars, state laws generally lowered the minimum age to 18. The federal law setting a minimum age of 18 to purchase tobacco—the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act—was adopted in 2009.

Find out more about your state’s tobacco rules by clicking the link below.

Learn more

Nevada and Maine reject efforts to join National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

Last month I told you that New Mexico, Colorado, and Delaware had joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC)an interstate agreement to award each member state’s presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote. Two additional states—Nevada and Maine—recently rejected legislative efforts to join.

Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) vetoed Assembly Bill 186 (AB 186), which would have made Nevada the 16th jurisdiction to join the NPVIC. Sisolak released a statement which said in part, “Once effective, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact could diminish the role of smaller states like Nevada in national electoral contests and force Nevada’s electors to side with whoever wins the nationwide popular vote, rather than the candidate Nevadans choose.”

The Nevada State Assembly approved AB 186 by a 23-17 vote in April. All votes in favor were cast by Democrats and 12 Republicans were joined by five Democrats in opposition. The Nevada state Senate passed AB 186 by a vote of 12-8 along party lines. This was the first veto issued by Sisolak, who was elected in 2018. Nevada became a Democratic trifecta when Sisolak was elected governor; both houses of the state legislature have been controlled by Democrats since 2017.

Also last week, the Maine House of Representatives rejected a bill that would have joined Maine to the NPVIC by a 76-66 vote. Twenty-one Democrats joined 51 Republicans and four Independents in opposition to the bill. Sixty-four Democrats, one Independent, and one Common Sense Independent Party member voted in favor. The Maine Senate had voted to pass the bill by a 19-16 vote on May 14. All ‘yes’ votes were cast by Democrats and 14 Republicans and two Democrats voted to oppose the legislation.

The NPVIC would go into effect if states representing at least 270 electoral college vote to adopt it. It does not abolish the electoral college system; rather, it is designed to award all of the electoral votes from the member states to whichever presidential candidate receives the most votes nationwide. To date, 14 states and Washington, D.C.—representing 189 electoral votes—have joined.

Most states currently use a winner-take-all system for awarding their electoral votes in the Electoral College. Under this method, the presidential candidate that receives a plurality of the popular vote in a state receives all of that state’s electoral votes. In five of 58 presidential elections, the winner of the electoral college did not receive the most popular votes. This occurred most recently in the 2016 presidential election as Donald Trump received 304 electoral votes and Hillary Clinton had more total votes nationwide.

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Fifteen candidates running Tuesday to succeed lone Republican on Los Angeles City Council

Fifteen candidates are running in Tuesday’s special election for the District 12 seat on the Los Angeles City Council. The Los Angeles City Controller’s office estimates that the population of that district was 284,395 as of 2017.

Voters will elect a successor to Mitchell Englander, who resigned to work in the private sector on December 31, 2018. Englander—the only Republican on the council—was first elected in 2011 and left office during his second term.

Tuesday’s primary election is nonpartisan. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a general election between the top two finishers will be held on August 13.

In November 2018, Los Angeles voters approved a charter amendment which aligns the city’s municipal elections with California’s primary and general elections. Seven of the council’s 15 city council seats—including the winner of this year’s special election—will be up for election in 2020.

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About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia and can be reached at dave.beaudoin@ballotpedia.org

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