After quickly passing both the House and Senate in early March, a bill that would increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 in Oklahoma is finally heading to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk.
On Dec. 21, 2019, President Trump signed H.R. 1865, a $1.4 trillion spending bill that also increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 though it’s currently not being enforced because it needs to clear procedural hurdles. Interestingly, it seems that Oklahoma likely wanted to pass its own state law—even if the federal law will change shortly—because it will remain eligible for $6.4 million in federal funds that go to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that upon signing that the new law went into effect immediately. It is halfwheel’s understanding that while the law might have changed, FDA likely lacks the authority to enforce the 21-years-old minimum age standard until after a few procedural steps, which likely would be completed by the end of 2020. However, the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) and National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) have advised their retail members to comply with the increase to 21 as a precautionary measure.
FDA has stated that it is not yet enforcing the 21-years-old standard through its compliance checks program.