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Federal Act May Impact Local Tobacco Ordinances

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The recent adoption of a Federal Act to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 may require some municipalities to consider changes to their local ordinances.

If your municipality decides to make any changes to your Code in response to this change in Federal law, be sure to send your revised legislation to us at [email protected] to keep your Code up-to-date, accurate, and enforceable.


TOBACCO SALES

The Federal Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, PL 116-94, adopted December 20, 2019, raises the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.1 According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, “…it is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21.”2

Although states must comply with the new Federal Law, many states have not yet enacted legislation to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21. We recommend municipalities in those states discuss this change in Federal Law with their attorney and determine how to proceed.


[1] PL 116-94, Section 603, states in part:

(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 906(d) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 387f(d)) is amended—

(2) by adding at the end the following:

“(5) MINIMUM AGE OF SALE.—It shall be unlawful for any retailer to sell a tobacco product to any person younger than 21 years of age.”.

(b) REGULATIONS.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (referred to in this section as the “Secretary”) shall publish in the Federal Register a final rule to update the regulations issued under chapter IX of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 387 et seq.) as appropriate… Such final rule shall—

(A) take full effect not later than 90 days after the date on which such final rule is published; and

[2] As of February 25, 2020, the FDA website states the following:

On Dec. 20, 2019, the President signed legislation amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raising the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. This legislation (known as “Tobacco 21” or “T21”) is effective immediately, and it is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product—including cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes—to anyone under 21. The new federal minimum age of sale applies to all retail establishments and persons with no exceptions.

FDA’s enforcement of the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products is ongoing. FDA recognizes that both the Agency and some retailers will need to update current practices to implement this new law as FDA will need time to do outreach and education to retailers and update the Agency’s programmatic work to reflect this change in law. During this period of transition, the FDA expects retailers to follow the law and take measures to ensure an individual purchasing tobacco products is 21 or older, including manually checking IDs when needed. However, during this ramp-up period, FDA will continue to only use minors under the age of 18 in its compliance check program.

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