NATO To Focus On Public Policy, Ends Trade Show

NATO to concentrate its expertise on helping retail members respond to “onerous tobacco restrictions,” being proposed by government officials across the nation.

The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) announced it will focus its resources exclusively on public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels, and end the NATO Show, an annual trade conference of retailers, wholesalers and other industry partners, as well as high-level government officials.

“After reviewing the association’s purpose and mission, the NATO Board of Directors decided to focus all of the organization’s staff and resources on legislative and regulatory issues which are critical to the success of our member retailers whose livelihoods depend on the legal sale of tobacco products,” said NATO President Frank Armstrong.

NATO is the only national retail trade association that works exclusively on tobacco issues and the association will now concentrate all of its expertise in helping retail members respond to onerous tobacco restrictions which are being proposed by government officials across the country on a seemingly daily basis.

The recent action by the Chicago City Council to impose a new tax on tobacco products (which is pre-empted by state law), raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21, ban tobacco product coupon redemption, and mandate minimum product prices and minimum package sizes, highlights the need for NATO to concentrate all of the association’s efforts to protect tobacco retailers from unreasonable, unfair and even unlawful tobacco regulations, Armstrong said.

“We believe the alarming trend among governments to propose punitive rules and regulations aimed at our members and to restrict the rights of adult consumers will continue,” Armstrong said.

NATO’s advocacy efforts will include aligning with other national, state and regional trade organizations to respond to local and state tobacco legislative proposals, reaching out to retailers across the country to expand NATO’s current membership of 51,000 retail stores, planning new educational seminar opportunities for NATO members, offering tobacco legislative and FDA regulatory seminars to other trade associations, and urging the FDA and state and local lawmakers to work with NATO and the industry to educate adults so they are not a social source of tobacco products for underage youth.

As the NATO board considered the association’s future work, it also made a critical business decision that the 2016 NATO Show will be the association’s last.

“While we have been eagerly anticipating this year’s show, there was a consensus among board members that given the many trade shows available to tobacco retailers, this is the right time to focus on NATO’s core expertise in battling oppressive tobacco restrictions,” Armstrong said.

NATO has produced the NATO Show since 2011, bringing together 841 exhibitors, 3,481 retail and wholesale attendees and offering 36 educational seminars, three of which featured keynote addresses by the Director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.


#1 Copenhagen Charley on 04.09.16 at 10:34 PM

Wow – anyone have any thoughts on why? Was it attendance woes. Lots of shows are struggling with attendance.

#2 OTP Kid on 04.11.16 at 10:33 AM

I think it’s pretty obvious CC. The show took on the personality of the their leader: boring, redundant, bookish and ineefective. The better question is what is the organization doing? They report the news, and never make news.

It’s really too bad, when it started it rocked and it was just what the industry needed

#3 Copenhagen Charley on 04.12.16 at 1:28 PM

Hey kid – you are so right.
Same old presenters. I mean how many times can you hype a show with its redundancy. I had heard that they were looking to bring in some new blood with insight but they turned to dumber than dumb. Sad because now there really is no show unless the TPC show cleans up a little. Can only take so many vapor offerings and with a questionable future.

#4 Ernie on 04.12.16 at 2:57 PM

Wow they really lost touch. Lost the pulse from what I have seen. Wonder if there are those that could form a real show?

#5 OTP Kid on 04.13.16 at 11:53 AM

They really screwed this one up. No more membership for me!

#6 Jersey boy on 04.14.16 at 7:31 PM

I heard the issue was low attendance. No one is going as they are don’t see its relevance to helping folks grow their business.

#7 Jersey boy on 04.20.16 at 1:52 AM

Did the fda finally share regs

#8 Marty on 04.21.16 at 12:25 PM

I’m at the show. Really hate to see this show go away. Attendance is really low. I’m having a really good show but not having this in the future will have a significant impact on my business. But I can see this happening more and more. Will make it harder on new companies and the fringe players that need these shows. Well the next few hours will be cherished.

#9 Eli on 04.21.16 at 5:38 PM

Today was really slow. Buzz was only 80 retailers signed up for the show. Wonder if they even showed up?

#10 OTP Kid on 04.22.16 at 4:08 PM

The retailers didn’t show up for the show, who wants to hear Briant talk on and on about nothing. They wrecked wheat started out as a great show. No more dues for NATO from me, especially since the only lobbying they do is for the Big Cig companies

#11 High flyer on 04.25.16 at 10:01 PM

OTP kid you are so on target. It’s sad though this really is a shame. The spin however is sickening.

#12 OTP Kid on 04.26.16 at 1:03 PM

Hey High Flyer – you are right on target with the spin. Lots of buzz about fighting the Chicago tax increase. They have no clue that no one is selling into Chicago as it today. All product comes from outside of the city and these retailers aren’t paying tax as it is

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