It is now illegal for people under the age of 21 years to buy tobacco products in Florida.

TALLAHASSEE — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill that boosts the minimum legal sales age from 18 to 21 years. Endorsed by the vaping and tobacco industries, this measure has now aligned state law with the federal government.

Former President Donald Trump signed into law an increase in the national minimum legal sales age to 21 years. However, several states were yet to implement these laws. Now, Florida is the latest state to meet the national standard for 21 years to buy tobacco.

The Tobacco 21 bill signed into law was opposed by major public health groups, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and other state-level tobacco control groups. Central to the opposition was that the bill limits the power of local governments to regulate tobacco and vaping products and leave such regulation to the state’s central public health authorities in Tallahassee. The measures here are to prevent discriminatory regulation in some jurisdictions, while others have more permissive rules.

One of the main regulatory lobbying efforts championed by the vaping industry includes the limitation of towns and cities implementing these types of product regulations.

“We are working to keep tobacco and nicotine products out of the hands of children,” said Rep. Jackie Toledo, a Tampa Republican who served as the primary sponsor for the Tobacco 21 bill. “In states where Tobacco-21 legislation has been implemented, these policies have proven to effectively reduce the underage use of tobacco and nicotine that are often shared via social sources or nontraditional retail channels.”

Toledo said: “This legislation is a step in the right direction, demonstrating Florida’s commitment to work with regulators and stakeholders to combat underage use.”

“By blocking the power of elected officials at the local level to protect kids — and failing to take any meaningful action at the state level — we risk another generation addicted to deadly tobacco products and the illness and premature death that come as a result,” notes a statement from the public health space. This statement also speaks to the intent of the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association.

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