On Dec. 21, 2019, President Trump signed a spending bill that included an increase in the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco products, raising it to 21-years-old. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that while the law went into effect upon its signing, it was not yet enforcing the 21-years-old standard through its compliance checks program.
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 several procedural steps are finished, which are expected to be completed by the end of 2020. As news of the age change came to light, the Premium Cigar Association (PCA), National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) began advising their retail members to comply with the increase to 21 as a precautionary measure.
Changing the laws at the state and local level are generally done to ensure that local agencies tasked with enforcing the minimum age requirement can do so, as they are only able to enforce the laws of the jurisdiction they represent. Additionally, states can become eligible for federal grant money by showing they are reducing tobacco use, particularly by those under 21-years-old, and as such passing purchasing age increases is one way to accomplish that goal.
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