The Food and Drug Administration has officially raised the minimum buying age for all tobacco products from 18 to 21 across the nation.
“It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available,” the FDA said in a statement released Friday.
The move to raise the minimum buying age of tobacco products was introduced as The Tobacco-Free Youth Act and was packaged as part of a $1.4 trillion spending package signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 20.
The measure was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and enjoyed bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
“Passage of this lifesaving legislation is an enormous victory for the health of our young people,” Senator Kaine said in a statement. “By raising the age to buy tobacco products nationwide, we can save 223,000 lives and reduce youth tobacco use.”
According to research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2019, over 6 million middle and high school students in the U.S. were current tobacco users. The CDC also found that 1 in 3 high school students and 1 in 8 middle school students are current tobacco users.
“Our Nation’s youth are becoming increasingly exposed to nicotine, a drug that is highly addictive and can harm brain development,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, about the findings. “Youth use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe.”
Prior to the enactment of the law, only 19 states and over 500 localities had raised the minimum buying age of tobacco to 21, according to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.