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Congress Grants FDA Authority to Raise Legal Purchase Age

The following is an update from the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) sourced through their December 20th online bulletin. Reposted with permission.

This week, the U.S. Congress voted on House Bill 1865, an omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government funded through September of 2020, which grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to draft and adopt a regulation raising the federal legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.  The legislation does not contain an exemption for active military personnel who are 18, 19 or 20 years old.  In addition, the bill requires retailers to request government-issued photo identification for customers under the age of 30.  The current age verification requirement is for customers who are under 27 years of age.

The FDA has six months from the date the bill is signed into law to release a final regulation raising the legal tobacco purchase age to 21.  The regulation would then take effect no later than 90 days after the FDA publishes the final regulation.  State would have a three-year period to comply with the law in order to retain federal substance abuse grants.  The President is expected to sign the bill by the end of the day today.

State Legislative Bill Introductions 

State tobacco-related legislative bills that have been introduced in the past week are listed below alphabetically by state:

New Hampshire:  House Bill 1624 establishes a moratorium on the sale of electronic cigarettes.  House Bill 1628 increases the legal age to 21 for vaping products.  House Bill 1662 increases the legal age to 21 for tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

New Mexico: The following bills were pre-filed earlier this week: House Bill 23 and Senate Bill 9 increase the legal age to purchase vapor products to 21 years of age and also contain licensing requirements for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.  House Bill 54 prohibits the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

New York:  Senate Bill 7050 prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes that contain certain toxic chemicals.

South Carolina:  House Bill 4714 creates a tax of $.05 per milliliter of consumable nicotine vapor products. House Bill 4798/Senate Bill 872 create tobacco retail licensing regulations for tobacco and vapor retailers, with requirements and compliance checks.  House Bill 4808 prohibits the sale, possession, or distribution of vapor products in the State. 

Virginia: House Bill 93 prohibits the sale or distribution of flavored tobacco products in the state.

State Legislative Bill Actions

State tobacco-related legislative bills that have been acted on by a state legislative committee or state legislature are listed below alphabetically by state:

Washington D.C.: The Judiciary and Public Safety Committee will hold public hearings on January 2, 2020 on the following bills; Bill 23-0453, the “Flavored Electronic Smoking Device Prohibition Amendment Act of 2019”, which prohibits the sale or distribution of a flavored electronic smoking device (includes the flavor of mint, and no exemption for menthol is specified in the current version of the bill). Bill 23-0454, the “Prohibition of Electronic Smoking Sales Without a Prescription Act of 2019”, which prohibits the sale of any electronic smoking device or liquids used in electronic smoking devices, unless the sale occurs at a licensed pharmacy to a person who has a prescription. Bill 23-0472, the “Electronic Smoking Device Sales Restriction Amendment Act of 2019”, which prohibits the sale or distribution of an electronic smoking device within a quarter mile of a middle or high school.

Federal Legislative Bill Actions

Tobacco-related legislative bills that have been acted on by Congress are listed below:

House Bill 1865: Passed the House and Senate this week and includes a provision authorizing the FDA to raise the legal purchase age for tobacco products and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age.