Tobacco 21: The Impact on the Tobacco and Alcohol Marketplace

By: Anna M. Wiand, John J. Harris and Lauren Voke

On December 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law legislation raising the federal legal age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21 as part of a $1.4 trillion appropriations bill. The specific provision, commonly referred to as “Tobacco 21,” prohibits the sale or distribution of traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco as well as the increasingly popular e-cigarettes and vaping cartridges to anyone under the age of 21 in the United States. The law additionally requires age verification for individuals purchasing tobacco who appear to be under the age of 30, an increase from the previous guideline requiring age verification for individuals who appeared to be under the age of 27. Failure to comply with this new federal law may put Florida licensed alcohol beverage retailers at risk.

The Florida Beverage Law provides that licensed alcohol beverage retailers who violate federal law may be subject to license suspensions and/or revocations. Accordingly, failure to comply with the federal prohibition on the sale of tobacco products to individuals under 21 years of age can put an alcohol beverage retailer’s license at risk. Therefore, all licensed alcohol beverage retailers, their managers, and their employees should comply with this new federal law to protect their licenses from revocation or suspension by the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.

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