Non-Cigarette Tobacco Products and POS Policies
What are Non-Cigarette Tobacco Products?
With restrictions on the sales and marketing of cigarettes, tobacco companies have expanded and promoted non-cigarette tobacco products (sometimes called “other tobacco products” or OTP). These less regulated products also may have strong youth appeal, offering milder-tasting and sweet flavored varieties of tobacco.
Non-cigarette tobacco products include, but are not limited to:
- Cigars, cigarillos (small flavored cigars), and little cigars,
- Smokeless tobacco (e.g. snus, chew, dip, snuff),
- Dissolvables (e.g. orbs, strips, sticks),
- Electronic cigarettes, and
- Heated tobacco products
For young people, these mild and often sweet product varieties may serve as the entry to trying more potent products as they acquire a taste for stronger tobacco. E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among youth since 2014, and current use of more than one type of tobacco product is also on the rise, with 11.3% of high school students reporting use of 2 or more tobacco products in 2018. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids report ‘Not your Grandfather’s Cigar‘ summarizes the recent growing trend of cigar use among youth. Further, communities that allow sales of such products near schools show higher rates of youth tobacco use.
Smokeless products may additionally entice and enable smokers to continue to use tobacco, even if driven to quit smoking because of social stigma, harm to their families, or the inconvenience of not being able to smoke in public places.
Campaign for Change
These non-cigarette tobacco products are far from harmless. They contain a range of known carcinogens, and have been shown to cause cancers and a range of other oral health conditions and other chronic diseases. In addition to starting a long-term nicotine addiction, early use of tobacco has short-term health effects too, including respiratory and cardiovascular impairment in adolescence and young adulthood.
“There is no such thing as safe tobacco” states the slogan throughout the Delaware Tobacco Prevention and Control Program’s The Dirty Truth campaign. This campaign has generated powerful communication materials, including animated banner ads for the web, gas pump tops, bus interior signs, radio spots, and other compelling materials.
POS Policy Opportunities
Consider policy options to protect the health of your community:
- Sales restrictions: Some communities have banned flavored tobacco, such as flavored cigars. New York City successfully banned flavored non-cigarette tobacco products, and defended this policy in court. In a similar fashion, the state of Maine banned of sales of flavored cigars, and Providence, Rhode Island also prohibited flavored non-cigarette tobacco products. Minneapolis has restricted the sales of flavored tobacco to adult-only specialty tobacco stores, and Chicago has prohibited the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol, within 500 feet of schools. San Francisco has prohibited the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes, and additional communities around the country are following suit. See more examples of restrictions of the sale of flavored OTP.
- POS marketing, advertising and promotional restrictions: While federal law places limits on local and state governments’ abilities to regulate cigarette marketing or promotions, non-cigarette tobacco products may be regulated at the point of sale, with appropriate policy language that does not raise First Amendment concerns. Promotional bans, such as prohibiting coupon redemption for non-cigarette tobacco products can also be used. See other policy opportunities for limiting marketing, advertising, and promotions at the point of sale. Also learn about the benefits of store audits and counter marketing campaigns to counteract tobacco industry influence.
- POS health warnings, social marketing campaigns, and other communication materials: Graphic warnings at the point of sale and campaign materials, such as The Dirty Truth’s pump tops for gas stations with convenience stores, could educate consumers about the risks of using non-cigarette tobacco products. See other policy options, including voluntary programs, that can be used to promote health warnings at the point of sale.
- Increasing prices of non-cigarette tobacco products: Price increases can dissuade consumers, and young consumers in particular, from tobacco products, and do not have to involve higher taxes. See policy solutions of non-tax approaches to raising product prices.
- Licensing of retailers: Licensing retailers of both cigarette and non-cigarette tobacco products offers a range of opportunities to monitor and enforce point of sale policies, collect licensing fees, or restrict retailer presence, for example, near schools. Learn about other policy options for licensing retailers to see what may work best for your community.
Maryland, for example, now requires all vendors of non-cigarette tobacco product retailers to apply for a license and pay an annual licensing fee, allowing state records of such retailers, limiting the ease with which retailers can sell tobacco products, and creating a source of revenue for the state.
Overall, regulation of non-cigarette tobacco products is critical to keep up with the changing product offerings developed and promoted by tobacco companies. Such policies can promote local business interests as well as prevent young people from having easy access to flavored varieties marketed directly to them.
- Surgeon General’s Report: Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults booklet and full report
- Fact Sheets on Smokeless Tobacco Harms from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- “Not Your Grandfather’s Cigar” Report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- Fact sheets from the Truth Initiative:
- National policy opportunities report: Federal Approaches to the Regulation of Non-Cigarette Tobacco Products from the Public Health Law Center
- Responses to the Marketing and Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products for other policy examples from the Public Health Law Center
- See product- specific Regulation Resources from the Public Health Law Center
- Policy resources for cigar regulation from the University of Maryland’s Legal Resource Center for Public Health Policy
- CounterTobacco.org’s evidence summary on E-Cigarettes at the Point of Sale.
- FDA information on heated tobacco products
- Familiarize yourself with policy options
- Conduct store assessments to see what products exist in your community
- See Sample Language to Restrict the Sale of Flavored Non-cigarette Tobacco Products, Including Menthol from the Public Health Law Center
- Read about New York City court case and successful defense of banning flavored non-cigarette tobacco products from the Center for Public Health & Tobacco Policy
- See policy options for Regulating Flavored Tobacco Products from the Public Health Law Center