What is the new legal sale age for ALL tobacco products in the United States?

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On December 20, 2019, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was amended to raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigar and electronic vaping products to anyone under 21. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will provide additional details on this issue as they become available.

How do I comply with the new law?

The minimum sale age for ANY tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and electronic vaping products is now 21 years old.

The FDA offers guidance on how to comply with the new law:

  • Check photo ID of everyone under age 30 who attempts to purchase any tobacco product.
  • Only sell tobacco products to customers age 21 or older.
  • Do NOT sell tobacco products in a vending machine unless in an adult-only facility.
  • Do NOT give away free samples of tobacco products to consumers, including any of their components or parts.

For more information, visit www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/retail-sales-tobacco-products/selling-tobacco-products-retail-stores

Why are these laws important?

These laws are designed to make regulated tobacco products less accessible and less attractive to youth. Increasing the minimum sale age for tobacco products to 21 is an effective strategy to reduce smoking and other tobacco use among youth and save lives. 

About 95% of smokers start before age 21. Every day, nationwide, nearly 1,900  kids smoke their first cigarette, and in Nevada, 800 kids become daily smokers every year. And one-third of them will die prematurely as a result. Tobacco use results in more than 480,000 deaths as a result of cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.

Increasing the tobacco age to 21 will help to prevent young people from ever starting to smoke and to reduce the deaths, disease and health care costs caused by tobacco use.

How will this law make a difference?

Although youth cigarette use has decreased, this decline is now being offset by increases in other products like electronic vaping products – which is creating a new generation of Nevadans who are at risk of nicotine addiction.

A report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) strongly concluded that raising the tobacco age at the national level would significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking and reduce smoking-related deaths. According to the modeling conducted by IOM, the age group that will see the largest decrease in initiation rates by raising the minimum age of legal access to 21 will be youth ages 15-17. Currently, more than 1 in 5 (21.4%) Nevada high school youth currently use some kind of tobacco product (cigarettes, cigars, chew, or e-cigarettes). Increasing the age from 18 to 21 has the ability to decrease youth usage in our community and nationwide.

Are there any resources for retailers?

Tobacco retailers play an important role in protecting children and adolescents by complying with the law and regulations.

Tobacco retailers are encouraged to take the FREE online tobacco merchant training at https://responsibletobacconv.com/. Responsible Tobacco NV is a resource to help merchants ensure proper training of staff members in regards to selling tobacco products. This online training provides an overview of federal and state laws, tobacco products, how to properly check ID’s, and dealing with challenging customer interactions. 

Proper tobacco retailer point-of-sale signage is important because it will communicate and inform customers about the minimum sales age law and remind employees to verify age before making the sale of tobacco products.      

In the near future, we will offer downloadable tobacco retailer point-of-sale signage.

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