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Tobacco purchase age requirement raised to 21

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

President Donald Trump signed new legislation into law Dec. 20 that raises the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

This makes it illegal for retailers to sell any products containing tobacco to anyone under the age of 21 throughout the United States.

The previous age requirement for purchasing tobacco products in the state of Alabama was 19, while some maintained the federal minimum of 18 years of age.

“Most people who smoke start before they turn 21, and adolescent brains are especially susceptible to nicotine addiction,” said Alabama Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris. “We hope this change will help reduce the habit, since tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States.”

According to a release from the Alabama Department of Public Health, smoking kills more than 8,600 adults in Alabama each year. Annually, the state spends more than $1.88 billion in health care costs directly caused by smoking.

“Retailers with questions about the new requirements can contact the Center for Tobacco Products Office of Small Business Assistance at 1-877-287-1373, or via email at smallbiz.tobacco@fda.hhs.gov, for help,” said ADPH in the release. “Further resources on regulations surrounding the retail sale of tobacco products can be found at https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/compliance-enforcement-training/retail-sales-tobacco-products.”

Congress enacted a similar act in 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which raised the federal required minimum age to purchase alcohol to 21.