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October 19, 2021

Legal age to buy tobacco in U.S. raised to 21 years old

New Federal legislation now in effect makes it illegal for those under age 21 to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

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.

 
FDA regulates all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, and cigars. If you sell tobacco products, you must comply with all applicable federal laws and regulations for retailers.
 
The FDA webpage (https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/retail-sales-tobacco-products/selling-tobacco-products-retail-stores) offers a summary of the federal rules. You can find comprehensive federal requirements for tobacco retailers in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco and Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
 
These laws are designed to make regulated tobacco products less accessible and less attractive to youth. Every day, nearly 2,500 kids smoke their first cigarette and more than 400 kids become cigarette daily smokers. Additionally, the CDC and FDA found that during 2011-2015, e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 percent to 16.0 percent among high school students. Many of these children will become addicted before they are old enough to understand the risks, FDA leaders stated.

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