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No changes to Arizona tobacco buying age despite new federal rule

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

PHOENIX — The federal government late last month raised the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, but it’s unclear whether or not that’s already in place in Arizona.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted an advisory of the new minimum age on its website after President Donald Trump signed legislation to approve it.

“The age change went into effect immediately, meaning it is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21,” an FDA spokesperson told KTAR News 92.3 FM in an email.

But Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said there are still some unknowns.

“Although there’s been a statute passed, the FDA still needs to promulgate the rule and how they’re going to implement that,” he said.

Brnovich said the FDA has 180 days after Trump signed legislation to approve the new age limit to buy tobacco products.

“Federal law did go into effect immediately but it likely cannot be effectively implemented until federal (FDA) rules catch up with the change in federal law,” a spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office told KTAR News in an email Thursday.

“Even then, our office cannot enforce federal law in this area unless the AGO is commissioned by the FDA per its protocols.”

The FDA said in a Dec. 21 tweet that it “intends to publish a final rule updating its current regulations” within 180 days. It also said it “will provide additional details on this issue as they become available.”

“We’re waiting to actually see what the FDA ultimately does,” Brnovich said.

He added his office is also looking to see how the new federal age to buy tobacco affects state law. In Arizona, anyone who’s at least 18 years old can buy tobacco products.

Brnovich said his office’s enforcement of tobacco rules have not changed.

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