GREAT FALLS — Montana tobacco retailers should comply with a new federal law and stop selling tobacco products to people under the age of 21, the state's Department of Public Health & Human Services said in a news release Thursday.
On Dec. 20, the federal Food & Drug Administration announced that, effective immediately, it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.
The announcement took several tobacco retailers by surprise, and many were awaiting further instruction from state health regulators.
“DPHHS strongly supports this new law, which is grounded in public health research and will protect young adults from a lifetime of addiction to nicotine,” Director Sheila Hogan said in a statement.
Hogan noted that nearly 95% of people who smoke cigarettes started before they turned 21. She said that increasing the minimum age of sale from 18 to 21 will reduce tobacco use by delaying the age of initiation.
The health department is awaiting additional guidance from the FDA and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, and will provide more information as it becomes available.
Federal compliance checks will continue to occur under the new minimum age requirement.
The FDA defines tobacco product as “any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption, including any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product,” and includes hookah, e-cigarettes (vapes), dissolvables, smokeless tobacco, cigarettes, all cigars, roll-your-own tobacco, pipe tobacco, and future tobacco products that meet the statutory definition of a tobacco product.