Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed S.B. 810, which would have both increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 and also banned flavored vaping products in Florida. Now, there’s another effort to change the tobacco purchasing age but without banning flavored vaping products.
Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, has introduced H.B. 987, which will make it illegal for anyone to sell purchase tobacco products in Florida if they are under the age of 21. It includes some other provisions, such as banning the use of tobacco or vaping products by anyone under 22 within 1,000 feet of a school; removing existing language that allow those serving in the military to purchase tobacco regardless of age; and creates a potential fine ($25) and community service (16 hours) for those under 21 found in possession of tobacco.
But the bill doesn’t include any attempts at restricting flavored tobacco or flavored vaping products. When DeSantis vetoed the bill—which passed the Florida House 99-17 and Senate 34-4—he said that banning the flavored vaping products would lead to people purchasing them on the black market.
Toledo told Florida Politics that she wants her bill to be a starting point for more comprehensive tobacco regulation—specifically when it comes to vaping products—and conceded that the simple age change is just to bring Florida’s laws in line with federal law.
While federal law already requires people purchasing tobacco or e-cigarette products to be 21, many states have changed their own laws to increase the minimum tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21-years-old. In many states, local law enforcement would not be able to actually punish people for violating the federal statue unless it is codified into state law.
As for federal enforcement, FDA says that it has begun conducting compliance checks with individuals under the age of 21 “now that a reasonable transition period has concluded.”