Legal age to buy tobacco products raised to 21

On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and 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, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available.

Initially, it was somewhat unclear when the new law would take effect. The FDA had six months to amend their policies after the bill was signed into law and then 90 days to put out the change. According to the FDA’s website, it is now illegal for retailers to sell tobacco products to people under the age of 21.

To help retailers comply with the law, the FDA has developed an educational program called, “This is Our Watch.” The program helps retailers better understand FDA tobacco regulations, the importance of compliance, and the greater purpose, which is protecting the nation’s youth from the harms of tobacco use. Retailers are encouraged, but not required, to display This is Our Watch materials in stores.