In late 2019 and early 2020, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued two enforcement notices intended to discourage youth smoking and vaping.
TOBACCO/E-CIGARETTE PURCHASE AGE NOW 21
Tobacco and e-cigarette sales are illegal to anyone younger than 21 under federal law. A spending bill the president signed into law Dec. 20, 2019, included the new purchase age for the entire United States. Shortly thereafter, the FDA noted on its retailer compliance web page that the purchase age of 21 took effect immediately.
In early January, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board instructed its inspectors to enforce the federal law.
Prior to this change, the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Alabama was 19.
The Alabama Department of Public Health suggests retailers with questions about the new age requirement contact the Center for Tobacco Products Office of Small Business Assistance at 1-877-287-1373, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Jan. 15, 2020, the FDA issued a public statement that the agency expects retailers to follow the law and take measures to ensure an individual purchasing a tobacco product is 21 or older, including manually checking IDs when needed. The FDA said it would continue to only use minors under the age of 18 in its compliance check program for an undefined “period of transition.”
Free resources for calculating ages of customers:
- FDA’s This is Our Watch digital age verification calendar
- We Card Now
In both the Apple Store and Google Play Store, search and download “We Card Age Checker”
ONLY TOBACCO AND MENTHOL VAPE CARTRIDGES TO BE SOLD AFTER FEB. 6
Starting Feb. 6, 2020, the only flavored cartridge e-cigarettes that can be made or purchased without risk of FDA enforcement action will be tobacco or menthol.
On Jan. 2, 2020, the FDA issued a 30-day warning to manufacturers, distributors and sellers against making or selling any flavored cartridge e-cigarette, except tobacco or menthol flavors. The new flavor enforcement policy does not apply to tank-based products or “self-contained, disposable” products (can’t be refilled or recharged). It stops short of being a full ban on flavored vapes.
The enforcement change was posted in the Federal Register on Jan. 7, 2020.
The halt date for sales of fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors is Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.
Enforcement actions range from warning letters to injunction, seizure and/or civil money penalty actions. Retailers — brick-and-mortar stores and online — and distributors are encouraged to communicate with suppliers to discuss possible options for the unauthorized products in their inventory.
ELSEWHERE ON THIS WEBSITE
ALABAMA LAW: Vape retailers required to have tobacco permit