The Indiana House of Representatives has approved a bill that will significantly increase penalties for retailers who sell tobacco products, e-cigarettes or vaping products to persons under 21-years-old, which the state would officially make the minimum age to purchase such products.
HB 1006 would raise the fine for a first violation from a maximum of $200 to a maximum of $500. Subsequent violations would also increase, with a third violation carrying up to a $1,000 fine, but possibly more importantly, the loss of the store’s tobacco retailer license for three years.
The bill also brings the state’s language regarding the minimum age to purchase tobacco in line with the federal minimum age of 21-years-old.
It passed by a 84-14 vote. The Senate has its own version with different changes proposed.
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.