On Jan. 1, New Hampshire’s state law changed, increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco in the state from 18 to 19. Yesterday, the New Hampshire Senate voted 16-8 in favor of a bill that would increase the state law from 19 to 21.
The bill was actually introduced a year ago but has been slow to make it through the state’s senate. Now that it’s passed, it will still need approval from the New Hampshire House and a signature by the governor, which isn’t guaranteed.
Whether or not the law passes is likely irrelevant in the near future.
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.
Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, a longtime advocate for the change said that local law enforcement has said that it cannot enforce the federal standard yet, hence the desire to pass this law now.