CStore Decisions June 2021 Digital Edition is sponsored by Commercial Fire.
Despite robust tobacco sales during the pandemic, the tobacco category continues to face turmoil from targeted regulations to supply issues.
Every year, the tobacco category gets hit with some kind of twist that convenience store owners and operators must accommodate.Five years ago, it was the deeming rule from the. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that lumped electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and other tobacco products (OTPs) in with cigarettes. At the end of 2019, the federal government raised the minimum purchase age to 21, quickly followed by the FDA ban on flavored ENDS other than disposable e-cigarettes and open vaping systems.
This April, the agency confirmed it is contemplating a national ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Oh, and of course, convenience stores are still dealing with the long-haul economic effects of COVID-19.
Despite all this, the tobacco category is experiencing some uplifting developments. For example, the oral nicotine segment continues to push forward, and even cigarettes withstood the unprecedented circumstances of the past 15 months.
Now, as foot traffic picks up, it’s an opportune moment to assess what the all-important c-store category — accounting for more than one-third of in-store transactions — has in store for the rest of the year.