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Frequently Asked Legal Questions

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In December of 2019, House Resolution 1865 was passed by Congress and signed by the President. This law raised the federal age requirement to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age — see page 590 of the resolution [PDF]. The resolution was signed into law on December 20th, 2019, as part of two funding bills for government programs in the 2020 fiscal year. H.R. 1865 amends Title 21, Chapter 9, Subchapter IX of the United States Code and gives the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (of which the Food and Drug Administration is a part) a period of time to update their regulations regarding the sale of tobacco products, but the law is effective immediately.

The amended FDA regulations will be found in Title 21, Chapter I, Subchapter K, Part 1140, Subpart B of the Code of Federal Regulations once they are updated according to the timetable set out in H.R. 1865. In the meantime, the FDA posted the following note on their website

Note: On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. 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.

H.R. 1865 does not include any grandfather clauses that provide exceptions to the new law that would allow a person under the age of 21 to purchase tobacco products.

Earlier in 2019, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 21. This bill was signed by the governor on June 7th, 2019, and took effect on September 1st, 2019. It raised the minimum age requirement for the purchase of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products in Texas from 18 years of age to 21. You can view the full text of the bill, read a bill analysis [PDF], and find more information about Senate Bill 21 at Texas Legislature Online.

Senate Bill 21 amended Chapter 161 of the Health and Safety Code and included a few grandfather clauses. These clauses excluded: (1) persons who are at least 18 years of age and present a valid military identification card of the United States military forces or the state military forces; and (2) persons born on or before August 31st, 2001. These exceptions can be found in Section 4 and Section 20 of the bill. However, please note that these exceptions were not included in the updated federal law (H.R. 1865).

You can view the official version of Senate Bill 21 on the Secretary of State's website [PDF] as part of the official list of legislation passed into law from the 86th Regular Session. You can also read the legislation online as part of Chapter 161, Subchapter H of the Health and Safety Code.

Additionally, the Texas Comptroller has an explanation of regulatory information in regards to underage smoking provisions posted on their website. This explanation states that the federal law does not include the "grandfathering" provisions that were part of the Texas statute.

For more information on how to find other new laws from the 86th Legislative Session, please see our FAQ, “Where can I find information on new state laws that went into effect in September 2019?”

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