The Premium Cigar Association (PCA) and other trade groups have asked the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to clarify the implementation of the new federal law requiring those purchasing tobacco to be at least 21-years-old.
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.
FDA stated that upon its signing, the new law went into effect. 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 PCA and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) have advised their retail members to comply with the increase to 21 as a precautionary measure.
Now many of those same groups are asking the FDA directly about whether it is actually enforcing it.
The letter sent on Friday, explained:
To date, a three-sentence note on the FDA website is the only communication on Tobacco 21 our retail members have seen from the agency. That note does not even appear on the home pages of the FDA or the Center for Tobacco Products. As such, retailers of tobacco products across the United States face significant confusion about the transition to age 21, requirements for compliance, and enforcement efforts. While some states have clarified that they will not enforce the new age restrictions until receiving implementing regulations from FDA, others have indicated they will pursue enforcement now. This is particularly confusing for retailers who operate in multiple states.
The seven groups behind the letter are:
- Food Marketing Institute
- National Association of Convenience Stores
- National Association of Truckstop Operators
- National Grocers Association
- Petroleum Marketers Association of America
- Premium Cigar Association
- Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America