Tobacco, vape store owners start implementing 21+ smoking age law

Tobacco, vape store owners start implementing 21+ smoking age law
21 will soon be the legal age for all Americans to buy tobacco and vaping products. (Source: Nathan Ellgren)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Since a growing push to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, Congress voted to put it in black and white in a spending bill with President Trump signing the bill into law.

But according to the FDA, stores are already expected to comply with the legislation saying since December 20th "it is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21. "

“We actually just found out today… we were under the impression we had about nine months until it was going to be enacted but it doesn't seem to be the case,” said Anthony Kolesa.

Kolesa is the owner of Smokecignals stores and says they have already started enforcing the law, checking id's so they only sell to those 21 and up.

“Most of our customers are 25 to 45 so it won't affect most of our customer base,” said Kolesa.

He understands why there’s been so much support from the groups including the American Lung Association, hoping to curb 18-year old’s from giving or selling tobacco and tobacco products to even younger children and teens. But he doesn’t believe this is the only legislation needed.

“I think it's good that it's in an effort to curb underage use, but I’m not sure but it's the total answer to fixing the problem,” said Kolesa.

Changing an age restriction that’s been in place for years though has received a mixed reaction.

“I turn 21 in four months, so if anything I’ll just have to get my older sister to go to the gas station for me,” 20-year-old Joey Nolan said

“It’s definitely a big concern like secondhand smoke and young kids being around,” David Neco said

But Jonathan Burke, regional manager of TherapyDia, physical therapy says there are even greater health implications to keep young people from picking up the habit.

“As far as what we see, if you’re a smoker it can delay healing times for musculoskeletal injuries and surgeries… we should definitely work to get people not to smoke in general and this could be a step in the right direction,” said Burke.

In reaching out to Louisiana lawmakers, a spokesperson for Senator Bill Cassidy says he supports the law for health reasons and to keep young people from smoking.

The Louisiana vaping association is in the process of putting together an official statement.

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