Federal Act May Impact Local Tobacco Ordinances



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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