Tag: Sales 

Big Tobacco goes big in effort to quash law banning sales of flavored tobacco products

A coalition of big tobacco companies and small retailers is paying professional signature gatherers upward of $10 a name in an attempt put the brakes on the statewide law barring brick-and-mortar stores from selling menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.

Suresh Raina standing in front of a store: Employee Majid Abbas (left) helps a customer buy flavored tobacco at City Smoke and Vape Shop in San Francisco in 2017.

© Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle 2017

Employee Majid Abbas (left) helps a customer buy flavored tobacco at City Smoke and Vape Shop in San Francisco in 2017.

With the Nov. 30 deadline approaching for submitting signatures to qualify the measure for the 2022 ballot, the high-dollar effort has become an interesting blend of California politics and potentially huge business profits, with a dash of coronavirus shutdown tossed in for good measure.


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At issue: SB793, authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in August. Stores that break the ban on selling flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes would face a $250 fine per violation.

Tobacco interests wasted no time filing the paperwork to put the law before voters in a referendum. They need 623,212 validated signatures to make the ballot.

“The law goes too far and is unfair. Particularly since lawmakers exempted hookah, expensive cigars and flavored pipe tobacco,” said Beth Miller, spokeswoman for the California Coalition for Fairness, the group seeking to repeal the ban.

“It will hurt small businesses and take jobs from licensed retailers who do sell tobacco products,” while still allowing for online sales, Miller said. “If the past is any indication, it will also lead to an underground market that could increase the access for minors.”

Hill dismissed the pro-tobacco arguments as a smokescreen.

“The goal is to keep kids from starting to smoke,” Hill said. “What 15-year-old is going to buy a $12.50 cigar or pipe tobacco? That’s ridiculous.”

Hill said the coalition had another reason for launching the referendum — profit.

If the referendum qualifies, the law, which is slated to go into effect in January, would be suspended until voters have their say in the November 2022 general election. And no matter what the outcome of the vote, the tobacco industry and retailers would get two more years of in-store sales until after the election.

Getting the signatures of the required registered voters by the November deadline, however, is not coming cheap.

The Coalition for Fairness estimates that it will need about 900,000 signatures to ensure it has enough verified signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Like most groups that place initiatives on the ballot, the Coalition for Fairness is using professional signature gatherers, those people you see carrying clipboards with petitions hawking various ballot measures outside of stores, farmers’ markets and other places people gather — or used to gather before the pandemic.

But getting people to stop and sign a petition is not easy these days. And with a pressing deadline, the price per signature has gone from $3 to $4 to as high as $10 per name. Miller said she did not have the exact figure, but

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Government incentives push electric car sales to record high in Germany

Volkswagen's ID4, the brand's first electric SUV, on show in Saxony, Dresden, Germany, on 23 September. Photo: Robert Michael/Picture Alliance via Getty
Volkswagen’s ID4, the brand’s first electric SUV, on show in Saxony, Dresden, Germany, on 23 September. Photo: Robert Michael/Picture Alliance via Getty

The shift to electric cars is gaining momentum in Germany, thanks in large part to government-backed incentives that are encouraging buyers to make the switch to electric and hybrid vehicles.

Figures published by Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority on Monday show registrations of new all-electric vehicles (BEVs) have risen by 260% in September, from the same month in 2019, to 21,188. These now account for an 8% share of the overall car market.

Hybrids make up just over 20% of the passenger-car market, with registrations up 185% last month from the previous September.

As part of its coronavirus stimulus package, the German government decided not to fund discounts on fossil-fuel cars or back a cash-for-clunkers scheme, but rather to support the switch to clean mobility by doubling subsidies on electric vehicles to between €3,000 (£2,725, $3536) and €6,000 depending on the model. The strategy appears to be having the desired effect.

READ MORE: Merkel government won’t back buyer premiums on fossil-fuel cars

Stefan Bratzel from the Centre of Automotive Management said: “The year 2020 marks a turning point for electric mobility, with new registrations in double digits for the first time.”

The Centre of Automotive Management has upped its forecast for the year in light of sales data published on Monday. It now predicts 300,000 new electric and hybrid cars to be registered this year, double its previous expectation.

“The German government’s innovation premium, which has increased the price competitiveness of e-vehicles and additionally raised the acceptance of e-mobility, is a major factor in this development,” Bratzel said.

In the medium-term, Bratzel said that density and reliability of the country’s charging infrastructure remains a challenge for electric-car adoption.

READ MORE: Weakest September in two decades as UK new car sales drop more than 4%

Despite the movement towards cleaner mobility, SUVs are still hugely popular, accounting for a 21% share of the German passenger car market in September.

Overall, new car sales in Germany ticked up by a little over 8% in September from August, with 265,227 new cars registered. But sales are down by 25% over the first nine months of this year as the coronavirus pandemic brought first production, and then sales to a crawl.

Germany’s powerful automotive sector — already weakened by a slump in global demand before COVID-19 hit — is facing big jobs cuts in order to weather both the sales slump, as well as fund carmaker’s expensive switch to electrification. Politicians have warned that the car industry is no longer the driving force of the economy.  

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Lucy’s Law: Ban on third party puppy and kitten sales in Wales

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Our dogs / Getty Images

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The law was named after a dog rescued from a breeding farm in Wales

A ban on third party puppy and kitten sales will be made law in Wales within the next few months.

Campaigners have long called for the regulation as a way of stopping so-called puppy farms from operating in poor conditions.

Lucy’s Law, named after a dog rescued from a breeding farm in Wales, came into force in England from April.

After a consultation, the Welsh Government announced a similar ban will come into effect in Wales.

Current Welsh Government regulations mean a local authority licence is only needed by those breeding three litters or more per year.

  • Delay bringing in puppy farms law in Wales criticised
  • Welsh vets ‘failing’ dogs at puppy farms

In October 2019, a BBC Wales investigation into “filthy” conditions at breeding sites which had been licensed and approved by councils sparked a review of the law.

Eileen Jones, founder and rescue co-ordinator at Friends of Animals Wales, called delays “not good enough”, saying Lucy’s Law could have been enacted quite quickly.

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Danielle Foley

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The Welsh Government previously admitted the move would not solve the problem overnight

A public consultation ran between June and August, which found: “The commercial third party sales of puppies and kittens may be associated with poorer welfare conditions for the animals compared with direct purchase from the breeder.

“For example, the introduction to several new and unfamiliar environments, and the increased likelihood of multiple journeys for such puppies and kittens have the potential to contribute to an increased risk of disease, and lack of socialisation and habituation.”

Of 226 responses, 98% wanted to see third-party sales banned.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths confirmed a ban on commercial third-party sales will be introduced by the end of this Senedd (in May 2021).

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