Federal law raises minimum age for tobacco purchases to 21


CONTACT: Scott Harris, M.D., M.P.H., Alabama Department of Public Health
(334) 206-5200

On December 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed legislation to raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. It is now illegal for retailers to sell any tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 21.

Prior to this change, the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Alabama was 19.

Retailers with questions about the new requirements can contact the Center for Tobacco Products Office of Small Business Assistance at 1-877-287-1373, or via email at [email protected], for help. Further resources on regulations surrounding the retail sale of tobacco products can be found at https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/compliance-enforcement-training/retail-sales-tobacco-products.

Alabama Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said he supports the increase in the buying age. “Most people who smoke start before they turn 21, and adolescent brains are especially susceptible to nicotine addiction,” he said. “We hope this change will help reduce the habit, since tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States.”

Smoking kills more than 8,600 adults in Alabama each year. Annually, the state spends more than $1.88 billion in health care costs directly caused by smoking.

County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.