Business Briefs – November 27, 2019

Drugmakers, Distributors Facing Federal Opioid Probe

WASHINGTON (AP) – At least a half-dozen companies that make or distribute opioid painkillers are under a federal investigation of their role in a nationwide addiction and overdose crisis, according to a report. Companies have been saying in financial filings that they’ve received subpoenas over drug distribution questions. This investigation is in addition to civil suits filed by most states and more than 2,000 local governments.

No More Menthol Cigarettes: New Ban on Tobacco, Vape Flavors

BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts has become the first state to ban flavored tobacco and vaping products. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill Wednesday. The new law specifically restricts sale of the products to licensed smoking bars, where they’ll only be allowed to be consumed on-site. The restriction extends to menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco. It also places a 75% excise tax on nicotine vaping products.

U.S. Consumer Spending Up 0.3% In October but Incomes Are Flat

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans increased their spending in October at the fastest rate in three months even though income growth was the weakest in 13 months. The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.3% last month, the best showing since a 0.5% rise in July.

From Modest Beginnings, Washington Now a Force In Wine World

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Washington has become a force in the wine industry. The state has the nation’s second-highest number of wineries, after California. Washington ranks fourth in U.S. wine sales, after California, Australia and Italy. In 2001, there were about 100 wineries in the state. That number has since exploded to more than 1,000 wineries this year, and the growth is likely to continue. Most of the industry’s success stems from the state’s climate and soils, experts say.

Providing a Unique Experience Is Retailers’ Year-End Strategy

NEW YORK (AP) – As small and independent retailers begin the year-end shopping season, they’re finding ways to give shoppers a reason to spend with them, not at big stores like Walmart and not with Amazon or other online sellers. For many owners, the answer is giving customers a unique, personal experience with services that outweigh the convenience of ordering online. The steps they take can be obvious like offering special merchandise or subtle, like changing a website’s look.