Bismarck, N.D. Raises Tobacco Purchasing Age to 21

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As the country adjusts to the new federal minimum age to purchase tobacco products being changed to 21, cities, counties and states continue to pass their own legislation in order to come into compliance and allow local police and other agencies to enforce the law.

On Tuesday night, the Bismarck City Council approved an ordinance to bring the city’s laws up to date, a change that will go into effect immediately. As part of the ordinance, if a business sells tobacco or e-cigarette products to a person under 21-years-old, both the retailer and the individual responsible for the transaction could face a fine.

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The ordinance also changes the age to possess or use tobacco products from 18 to 21-years-old.

On Wednesday morning, the FDA announced that while the minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes is 21 and it is illegal for anyone to sell such products to a person under 21, the agency will continue to enforcing a minimum of 18-years-old during what it referred to as a “ramp-up period.”

Bismarck is the capitol of North Dakota and has a population of just over 73,000 residents. It is the second biggest city in the state behind Fargo.

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.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that upon signing, 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 midway point of 2020. However, the Premium Cigar Association (PCA), 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.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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