A bill to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Oklahoma to 21-years-old has received the signature of Gov. Kevin Stitt, who signed it into law on Tuesday morning.
The bill, S.B. 1423, was approved by the Senate 28-19 in early March, while the House approved it by a 79-20 vote on May 12. Since the bill contains an emergency clause, the increase went into effect immediately upon receiving the governor’s approval.
Oklahoma’s laws now match that of the federal government, an increase that came on Dec. 21, 2019, when President Trump signed H.R. 1865, a $1.4 trillion spending bill that included an increase to the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, raising it from 18 to 21-years-old. However, due to enforcement largely happening at the local level, many states, counties and cities have had to pass bills or ordinances to change their laws to reflect the 21-year-old minimum.
Additionally, states are passing their own increases as it will allow them to remain eligible for $6.4 million in federal funds that go to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission.
While the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has stated the increase went into effect upon signing, it is halfwheel’s understanding that FDA likely lacks the authority to enforce the new age until several procedural steps are taken, which would be likely completed by the end of 2020. As retailers hurried to make sense of the increase, 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.