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New Legal Age for Purchasing Tobacco to Shape Year Ahead

The legal age for purchasing tobacco and tobacco-related products is now 21. The change was made effective immediately on December 27, 2019, according to the FDA website.  The FDA noted that "it is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product -- including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes -- to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available."


Introduced in May 2019 through bipartisan efforts and approved by the Federal government in December of the same year, the increase in legal purchasing age comes as the youth e-cigarette epidemic continues to sweep the nation. According to government officials, this change will significantly reduce the number of premature deaths caused by chronic diseases. Critics say more needs to be done to curb youth smoking and vaping, including the ban of flavored tobacco-related products


As of late December 2019, according to the nonprofit Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 19 states have raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. States include California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Texas; Washington, D.C. and more than 500 cities and towns have also raised the age. The approved legislation is supported by a broad coalition of medical organizations, including American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.  With the bill signed by President Donald Trump on December 20, 2019, the FDA is mandating that the minimum age for all tobacco products is 21, and the minimum age to check ID for these products is raised from 27 to 30.


As you’re trusted partner in tobacco and alcohol compliance, The BARS Program will continue to monitor implementation of the new federal law, as well as related changes enacted at the state-level. For questions about employee compliance with tobacco-purchasing rules and regulations, contact BARS at or call 1-877-540-5500.

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