This year will see a significant number of state legislative bills regarding cigarettes, tobacco products and electronic cigarettes/nicotine vapor products. With virtually every state experiencing a budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, state lawmakers will need to consider tax increases which will likely include higher tax rates on cigarettes, tobacco products and electronic cigarettes/nicotine vapor products. In addition, some states may consider sales restrictions on flavored tobacco products.
To assist association members participate in the legislative process, the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) uses a customized web-based grassroots advocacy system called “Softedge” that allows a NATO member with just two clicks of a computer mouse to send an e-mail letter regarding a tobacco-related legislative bill simultaneously to all of the state legislators that represent the district in which each member store is located. The letter to lawmakers is pre-drafted by NATO legislative staff. State lawmakers want to hear from their constituents and local businesses and the NATO Softedge system makes communicating with legislators a simple task.
NATO members that have submitted their store lists to NATO to participate in this e- mail communication service should watch their email inbox for NATO alerts from NATO state legislative staff members Tim McKinney, Josh Pruett, Steve Duffy or Meghan Shea.
When an email alert is sent on a state legislative bill, the member only has to read the cover alert e-mail, click on the link at the bottom of the email, and then click the “Send Messages” button on the bottom of the letter itself to send the letters to lawmakers. When the “Send Messages” button is clicked, the system automatically fills in name of each lawmaker to whom the letter is being sent and also inserts the name of the retailer.
In short, with two clicks of a mouse, a NATO member is able to communicate with every lawmaker that represents each of their stores.
For those NATO members that have submitted their store lists to NATO in order to receive these alerts, your participation is very much appreciated. If you would like to participate in this legislative alert system, please contact NATO at [email protected], and the organization will send you an Excel spreadsheet template for your store list. Please note that the store list is kept confidential and not used for any other purpose.
Also, one primary person in your company is designated for receiving these legislative alerts and that key contact person determines whether to send the letters to lawmakers. This ensures that the appropriate person within your company decides on which legislative issues they will take action.
To be as effective as possible in opposing tobacco legislation, NATO urges each member to participate in this web-based alert system.