By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
It’s now illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said this week.
The issuance comes after President Donald Trump last week amended federal law. The law gave the FDA flexibility in how and when it wanted to enforce it.
“It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21,” the agency said on its website. “FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available.”
The statement came in the form of a notice on a page meant to provide guidance to retailers who sell tobacco products. The agency on Thursday tweeted that it intends to publish a final rule updating its regulations within 180 days.
The new age restriction is part of a nearly $1.4 trillion spending package recently passed by Congress and signed into law by Trump. It’s the biggest new sales restrictions on tobacco products in more than a decade, the Associated Press reported.
Nineteen states in recent years have passed their own legislation raising the age to buy tobacco to 21. More than 500 cities and towns have implemented similar local ordinances. More than half the U.S. population is now covered by “T 21” laws, according to the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
In Alabama, the buying age has been 19.
Alabama Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris previously told Alabama Daily News that he was supportive of the increase in the buying age.
“We know that most people who smoke start smoking before age 21,” he said.
Each day in the United States, about 2,000 youth try their first cigarette and more than 300 become daily cigarette smokers, according to the FDA.