The Oklahoma Senate Health and Human Services Committee has passed a bill that would increase the minimum age to possess tobacco to 21 and introduce the potential of jail time for those caught violating the law in certain circumstances.
S.B. 1423 cleared the committee and now heads to a vote in the full senate.
Like bills in most other states, the new law would introduce fines—$100 for a first offense and $200 for a second violation within one year—what’s different about S.B. 1423 is that the proposed law focuses on the possession of tobacco products, not purchasing tobacco products and that it introduces the potential of jail time.
Under the proposed law, a person under 21-years-old caught possessing tobacco or vaping products would need to identify who provided them with the products. If the violator is 16 or older and they don’t provide a name, they could be sent to jail for up to five days. For those caught providing tobacco products to someone under 21 could be sent to jail for 10-90 days.
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 that 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 end 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.