Q: I heard that there is a new federal law to increase the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. Is this really necessary?
A: If you want to keep teens from becoming smokers and prevent many serious health issues that are a significant burden on our country, then yes, this is absolutely necessary. The federal law was signed by President Trump on Dec. 20 and has made it illegal to sell any tobacco products (including cigarettes, e-cigarettes/vaping products, and cigars) to anyone under 21.
Before the federal law was signed, the U.S. already had 19 states, Washington D.C., and over 500 cities that had passed legislation to raise the legal age of purchase of tobacco products to 21. New Mexico has some proposed legislation, HB 66, that is aiming to accomplish the same goal at a state level. Federal law is now in effect with details on implementation to come from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Now that the federal legislation has been signed, states that do not comply with this new law may lose significant federal funding.
The rates of teens who occasionally or even regularly use tobacco are alarming. Some statistics show that one in four 12th graders, one in five 10th graders, and one in 10 ninth graders have vaped nicotine in the last month.