Tobacco Legislation Efforts in Louisiana
Policy change is a key component in the success of tobacco control programs. Smoke-free air, tobacco taxes and other evidence-based policies are effective in reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. By educating state leaders, decision-makers and the public on best practices for tobacco control, Well-Ahead Louisiana is working to reduce the burden of tobacco use statewide.
To create change, it takes collaboration between state leaders, decision-makers and the public. Tobacco policies have the potential to help reduce disparities in tobacco use and tobacco-related health conditions. They can address social determinants of health (the root cause of many health threats according to the American Public Health Association),1 shape social norms and help make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Louisiana residents.
Stay Informed on Louisiana Policies and Laws!
Reach out to Louisiana leaders to learn more about what the Louisiana House and Senate are doing to combat tobacco use in our state.
Tobacco Industry Targeting Disadvantaged Communities
Tobacco companies have long targeted disadvantaged communities with marketing for their products, and this practice continues today in communities across Louisiana. Disadvantaged communities are burdened by a disproportionate number of tobacco stores, more prolific and prominent tobacco advertising in those stores, and more frequent and steeper discounts on tobacco product prices.
This aggressive tobacco marketing in high-minority, low-income communities is a significant driver of widening disparities in tobacco use and rates of successful cessation attempts. By no coincidence, low-income and lower-educated groups and those with poor mental health are much more likely to suffer from tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco controls can reduce inequitable exposure to harmful tobacco marketing and inequitable access to tobacco-free spaces.
Local Policies for Success
Because disadvantaged communities are disproportionately targeted, it is important to implement tobacco controls to reduce inequitable exposure to harmful tobacco marketing and inequitable access to tobacco-free spaces.2 Different communities are likely to have different needs or challenges depending upon a variety of factors, so local tobacco control policies are effective.
Using local knowledge to forge community-specific solutions allows for a targeted approach to combat related disparities and ensure equitable access to better public health. Grassroots educational efforts could build community readiness, increase local awareness and inform public debate about potential related state level policy change.3
Equality is giving everyone the same bike. Equity is giving everyone a bike that meets their needs so they can ride the bike.
Preemption in Tobacco Control
Preemption is when a law is passed at a higher level of government that prevents or makes it illegal for lower levels of government to pass stronger or more restrictive laws. Since the strongest and most innovative tobacco control policies emerge at the local level, preemption harms successful tobacco control efforts.
Youth Access Laws
One of the tenants of effective tobacco control is reducing youth initiation of tobacco products. Youth access laws address the accessibility of youth to purchase tobacco products.
Some examples of these policies include:3
- Raising the age that people can purchase tobacco products.
- Increasing the price of tobacco products.
- Limiting the flavors or availability of different types of tobacco products that appeal to youth.
- Limiting the number of tobacco retailers within a certain proximity to schools.
Minimum Legal Sales Age
In December 2019, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum legal sales age for all tobacco products from 18 to 21, nationwide. Increasing the sales age for tobacco products to 21 helps counter the tobacco industry’s efforts to target youth at a critical time when many may transition from experimenting with tobacco to regular smoking.5
Local Policies to Reduce Youth Initiation
Louisiana is one of 24 states that preempts local governments from enacting stricter youth access regulations than that of the state government. By removing preemptive language from Louisiana’s youth access law, communities will be able to enact additional measures to meet the needs of those living in their communities. This allows for potentially stronger policies to emerge at the local level that deter young people from initiating tobacco use.6
Increasing smoke-free places and combatting the targeted marketing in high-minority low-income neighborhoods by equitably increasing tobacco control measures can help to reduce youth initiation of tobacco products in these communities.
Penalties for Youth Tobacco Sales
Because of tobacco industry tactics to target youth, it is important that the enforcement of youth access laws holds retailers and the industry accountable for compliance, and does not punish employees for illegal sales or youth for purchase, use or possession.6,7 These strategies align with best practice recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
|Current Louisiana Laws||Best Practice Recommendation|
|Who is penalized: Person who Buys or Sells Tobacco Products||Who is penalized: Tobacco Retail License Holder|
|First Violation: Maximum of $50||First Violation: Minimum of $300|
|Second Violation: Maximum of $100||Second Violation within 36 months: Minimum of $600|
|Third Violation: Maximum of $250||Subsequent Violation(s) within 36 months: Minimum of $1,000|
|Subsequent Violation(s): Maximum of $400|
The additional revenue from raising fines can fund the best practice standard of two compliance checks per year by an underage decoy, plus re-checks of retailers not in compliance. These changes can move us toward a tobacco-free Louisiana.
Raising the price of tobacco products is one of the most effective strategies for reducing initiation, decreasing consumption and increasing cessation of tobacco.7 Increasing the price can also reduce tobacco-related disparities among diverse income, racial and ethnic groups since these populations are disproportionately targeted by tobacco companies.8
Access to cheap tobacco products leads to an increase in use and consumption.9 But when prices for one type of tobacco increase, users often switch to other, less expensive tobacco products.10 Youth and low-income populations are the most sensitive and responsive to changes in the price of tobacco products.11 By increasing the price, low-income residents that use tobacco are more likely to quit or cutback, and youth are less likely to start, reducing their risks of tobacco related disease and death.12
Smoke-Free Laws and Policies
All Louisiana residents should be able to work in a smoke-free environment. State employees are protected by tobacco-free policies when at work, but there are certain types of workplaces that experience higher secondhand smoke exposure rates (e.g., bars, gambling facilities). Passing comprehensive smoke-free policies would not only address these disparities in protections from secondhand smoke, but these policies have also been associated with an overall decline in smoking prevalence.
Louisiana Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues
Stay in the know! Louisiana has many laws, policies and regulations in place for tobacco control. The American Lung Association also has summaries for the legislated actions on tobacco for each state.
Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco Law
La R.S. 14.91.8 (MLSA) Acts 1991, No. 919, §1; Acts 1994, 3rd Ex. Sess., No. 64, §1; Acts 1997, No. 1010, §1; Acts 2014, No. 278, §1, eff. May 28, 2014
Prohibition on smoking in cars where children under the age of 13 are present.
La. R.S. 32:300.4 Acts 2006, No. 838, §1.
This law was recently amended in 2020 that prohibits vaping to the list of prohibited activities when a child is present in a vehicle.
La. R.S. 47:841 Acts 2016, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 4, §1.
Tobacco Tax Health Care Fund
La. R.S. 47:841.1 Acts 2009, No. 384, §5, eff. July 1, 2010.
Prohibition of Tobacco in schools/school bus
La. R.S. 17:240 **Acts 2017, No. 351, §1, eff. June 22, 2017**
Prohibition of smoking to state office building within 25 feet
La. RS 40:1293.3 Acts 2014, No. 546, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2015; Re-designated from R.S. 40:1263 by HCR 84 of 2015 R.S.
Smoke-free policies at post-secondary education institutions
La. R.S. 40:1291.23 Acts 2013, No. 211, §1; Re-designated from R.S. 40:1300.263 by HCR 84 of 2015 R.S.
Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act
La. R.S. 40:1300.251 et. seq. Acts 2006, No. 815, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2007; Re-designated from R.S. 40:1300.251 by HCR 84 of 2015 R.S.
Prohibition on smoking discrimination at work
La. R.S. 23:966 Acts 1991, No. 762, §1.
La. R.S. 26:910 Acts 2014, No. 278, §2, eff. May 28, 2014.
Louisiana Responsible Vendor Program
La. R.S. 26:931 et. seq. Acts 1997, No. 1054, §1.
La. R.S. 39:98.4 CONST 7 10.9 Acts 2008, No. 867, §1.
Tobacco Product Definitions
Louisiana Tobacco Laws
Clarification on tobacco terminology in Louisiana laws and regulations.