Wednesday was going to be the start of Wright County’s stand-alone Tobacco 21 policy, which would have raised the legal age to purchase or use tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 years of age to 21. But, a change in the federal policy regarding the legal age for smoking has made a significant (and immediate) change to the law.
Typically, when a federal law is enacted, agencies that oversee those changes have up to 180 days go finalize the implementation of the new law and requires that it take effect no later than 90 days following that six-month implementation window – effectively giving up to 270 days for the law to be enforced.
But, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has overseen tobacco laws and legislation since 2009, is not bound to wait that long because it has the authority to enforce the age limit under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The FDA posted on its website last week that the legal age has been raised to 21, effective immediately, because the law doesn’t require a delay to make the change. In a short statement, the FDA posted that it “will provide additional details on this issue as they become available.”
The reason Wright County went out on its own to start a T-21 initiative was based on the belief that a statewide change wasn’t coming in Minnesota any time soon and the federal government, while talking about making the change, needed to take those formal steps to make the law of the entire country. With the Dec. 20 signing of the legislation by President Donald Trump, it became the law of the land. With the FDAs ruling that the change will start immediately, Wright County won’t be on an island anymore. It’s now illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase tobacco, e-cigarettes or vaping products regardless of where you live.