Category Archives: tobacco

McCormick drops bill inspired by Armstrong case

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick has dropped an effort to change state law so that future legislators would be prohibited from dealing in cigarette tax stamps as Rep. Joe Armstrong is accused of doing.

Armstrong, D-Knoxville, faces trial in August on federal tax evasion charges stemming from what the indictment says was a profit of about $500,000 from cigarette tax stamp transactions in 2007. After reading reports of the indictment, McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said he was surprised that the transaction itself was legal and introduced HB1440 — also sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris — to make it illegal.

But McCormick said he had encountered concerns with the legislation on several fronts and ultimately decided to drop the push for passage. Officially, he took it “off notice” last week in the House Agriculture Subcommittee, which has now closed for the 2016 session.
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House sub snubs raising legal age for smoking

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An effort to raise Tennessee’s smoking age from 18 to 21 has been defeated in the state House.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Bob Ramsey of Maryville (HB1978) failed to receive a motion in the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday.

Ramsey, who worked on his family’s tobacco farm growing up, has said he introduced the bill over health concerns for Tennesseans.

Legislative analysts had projected that the measure would cost state and local governments about $10 million in lost revenue a year once fully implemented.

Tennessee’s tax on each pack of cigarettes was raised from 20 cents to 62 cents in 2007.

Hawaii is the only state that bans teenagers from smoking, but California lawmakers last week passed legislation to follow suit. That bill is awaiting the governor’s signature.