Florida raises age restriction for smoking and vaping

Tobacco products that are typically sold in stores. Photo courtesy: csnews.com.

The state of Florida is officially raising the age restriction on all smoking and vaping products from 18 years and older to 21 years and older. This change becomes effective on Friday, October 1.

In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 1080, which raises the legal age for purchasing nicotine and tobacco products to 21. This new change aligns Florida’s legal age for purchasing these products with the age set by federal law in 2019.

Now that it is time for the change to go into effect, many consumers, who are not yet 21 years old, are voicing their disapproval of the new age restriction.

“I feel like raising the age to 21 is really a disgrace because we waited so many years to be able to buy tobacco products just to get turned back around,” said Kenyelle Porter, a Tallahassee resident. “Now I’m 20 and I suddenly can’t buy tobacco products, so it’s very unfair and I think it’s a rising problem.”

This change will not only impact the consumers of these products, but also the distributors of tobacco and nicotine products. According to the summary of the bill on the Florida Senate website, it requires age verification before the sale of tobacco or nicotine products to “persons who appear to be under 30 years of age.”

Local smoke shops in Tallahassee have been notifying their customers ages 18 to 20 of the change and are preparing for the change in business.

“I would just suggest that everyone underage stock up,” said a cashier at a smoke shop on Ocala Rd., who preferred to remain anonymous. “I know our regular customers pretty well and some of the younger people already plan to stock up.”

However, consumers have already been planning ways to get around the new restriction. Chelsea Arnett, 31 and a Tallahassee resident, has been asked by younger individuals if she would mind being sent in the store to get tobacco products for them.

“I’ve been asked multiple times. But that is illegal, and I have too much to lose,” said Arnett.

Of course, Arnett is not the only individual over 21 who people could ask for this type of favor. Multiple individuals, who would rather not be named, have said that they would go to the smoke shop for a younger friend.

This type of behavior may allow consumers to continue their normal habits and allow distributors to not take such a hit in sales.

It is risky however because those caught can be punished by law.