Minimum Age Raised to 21 for Purchase of Tobacco Products

April 3, 2020

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed a bill that bans the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21. USA Today reports: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially changed the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21. The new minimum age applies to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping cartridges. This change went into effect immediately at the federal level and has to be complied with by every state as it is now a federal law.

This new law is similar to the current minimum drinking age of 21 and what legal ramifications can occur for sellers and buyers of alcohol. For example, if you are under the age of 21 and get caught drinking alcohol then you could be charged with possession of alcohol under 21, a misdemeanor offense. The same goes for sellers of alcohol — they can get charged with misdemeanor offenses and face sanctions in relation to their alcohol licensing. Now if we take a look at the Florida Statutes on the sale of tobacco to persons under 21 we can see what potential crimes and sanctions individuals can face. The Online Sunshine laws website has not been updated to reflect the 2020 Florida Statutes and the minimum age increase to 21. The websites current 2019 Florida Statute 877.112(2) states: It is unlawful to sell, deliver, barter, furnish, or give, directly or indirectly, to any person under the age of 18 years of age, any nicotine product or a nicotine dispensing device. The first offense is a second degree misdemeanor punishable up to 60 days in jail, a fine up to $500, or both. The second or subsequent offense is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both. Although the online florida statutes are not up-to-date, we know the increase in minimum age restriction has been in effect since January 1, 2020.

We do not know what the punishments could be for persons who are caught selling tobacco products to adults between 18-20 or those adults between 18-20 caught possessing tobacco products. It may still remain a noncriminal violation to possess tobacco under the age of 21 as it is currently for minors or it may change. What we need to look to see is if there will be a difference in punishment for sale of tobacco products to a minor vs an adult under the age of 21.These are things to keep an eye on as the 2020 Florida Statutes are updated.

If you or anyone you know is currently facing issues related to the new tobacco laws, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney at KJ LAW to discuss your legal remedies.

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