The legal age to purchase tobacco products has been raised to 21 in the United States.
On Dec. 20, 2019, the President signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, raising the federal minimum age of the sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 nationwide, stated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Although some states, including Alabama, had raised the age of purchase to 19, the new law prohibits retailers across the U.S. from selling any tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes to anyone under 21.
According to the fda.gov, the landmarks Tobacco Control Act aims to make tobacco products less accessible and less attractive to children and youth.
On Dec. 20, the FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn tweeted, “this is a major step in protecting the next generation of children from becoming addicted to tobacco products.”
In mid-December of 2019, businesses across DeKalb County began exhibiting signs to ready their customers of the change.
Nikisha Lowe, of Fuel City in Powell, said it'd been half and half as far as the customers' reaction to the change.
“Most of the older people that are coming in and seen the sign are supporting it, and then you have the ones who are young and were already used to smoking, and they come in and are mad about it,” she said.
Although some businesses have already begun exercising, the change others started in the new year.
Chanda Kittrell of Conoco in Rainsville said their establishment would start the new change on Jan. 2, 2020.
“People are going to be mad,” she said.
According to the Alabama Public Health, since the passage of the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act in 2003, Alabama has been purposeful in passing laws to make it illegal and harder for children and adolescents to purchase tobacco products.
On August 1, 2019, the Alabama Act #2019-233 (HB41) went into effect. It introduced significant changes concerning the advertising and selling of alternative nicotine products, including vape devices and liquids in the state of Alabama.
Among one of the significant changes that came from this act was the prohibition of opening vape shops within 1,000 feet of a school, church, youth center, daycare center or public library, playground or park, stated alabamapublichealth.gov.
According to fda.gov, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey that show alarming rates of e-cigarette use among both middle and high school students in 2019.
The finding showed more than 5 million youth reporting having used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days and nearly one million reporting daily use.
“The use of e-cigarettes, particularly those with high levels of nicotine, places youth at risk for developing nicotine addictions,” stated the FDA.
The findings concluded nicotine exposure adolescence could harm brain development and the use of e-cigarettes places youths are at higher risk to start smoking cigarettes.