More than 15 states already ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. But in other states, there is some confusion as to when the federal ban takes—or took—effect.
According to the National Grocers Association (NGA), the ban took effect Dec. 20. That is the day President Donald Trump signed legislation increasing the federal minimum age to buy tobacco to 21.
NGA says the “T21” law gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 180 days to implement the age limit increase, but instead the agency announced that the law is effective immediately with the following statement on its website:
“Note: On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. 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.”
The federal mandate institutes the change for all U.S. states and territories. NGA says it is in touch with FDA to determine its enforcement plans for the new age limit on tobacco sales.
NGA is advising its members that retailers should not sell tobacco products to those under the age of 21.
“We encourage our members to monitor notices from their state regulators to ensure proper compliance with the new mandate,” NGA says.
The association also encourages those with questions to reach out to Chris Jones, NGA’s VP of government relations and counsel, at [email protected].