(INDIANAPOLIS) – If you’re under 21, it’s now illegal for you to buy cigarettes or e-cigarettes — a little earlier than expected.
It was expected to take nine months for the Food and Drug Administration to meet public notice requirements before the increased smoking age became official. But the FDA says since the only thing changing is the cutoff age, it can take effect immediately.
Indiana Food and Fuel Association president Scot Imus says convenience stores support the change, but says expecting them to flip the switch overnight is “reckless.” He complains the FDA didn’t even announce the change — it showed up as a note on an agency webpage.
Imus blames what he calls a clumsy rollout for confusion at thousands of convenience stores. He says he believes clerks are now generally up to speed on the new requirements. But he says automatic scanners which check your I-D have to be reprogrammed to look for ages 21 and up instead of 18.
And Imus says legislators will have to fix a state law which requires stores to post signs warning that the minimum age is 18. Governor Holcomb has already asked legislators to change state law to make sure the minimum age is 21 to possess tobacco, not just to buy it.
Imus says clerks shouldn’t be in the position of having to explain the law to customers. And he says the quiet rollout means 20-year-olds who get turned away by one store might go down the street in search of a store that isn’t fully caught up.
(Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)