Age Limit Now 21 Across U.S. for Purchasing Tobacco Products

Ash tray full of cigarettes.

Ash tray full of cigarettes.

The standard age limit for buying tobacco products in the U.S. has been 18 since 1987, on December 20, however, the age limit was raised to 21. It is referred to as a “major step” in keeping future generations from getting addicted to tobacco products.

21 and Older

In 1980 the minimum age to purchase tobacco products was 16; in 1987, the minimum age was raised from 16 to 18 in an effort to stop youths from becoming addicted at a young age.

The 18-year-old requirement has remained in place since 1987 until just days before Christmas, 2019. On December 20 President Trump signed a spending bill that had a provision of raising the legal age limit of buying tobacco products, including cigarettes and any product that contains nicotine, from 18 to 21 inside of it.

Lowering the Risk

About one-third of the states had already passed their own laws that changed the age requirement of purchasing tobacco products to 21 and older. “This is a major step in protecting the next generation of children from becoming addicted to tobacco products,” new FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn tweeted last week. [1] According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the law will go into effect immediately- this is because it merely changes the age limit of tobacco possession and does not create a new law.

This new law comes after many young people have become addicted to nicotine and tobacco products. Anti-smoking advocates hope that the higher age limit will make it more difficult for youths to obtain tobacco products from their high school friends or classmates who are 18 or older.


  1. ^Age limit now 21 across US for cigarettes, tobacco products.” 28 Dec. 2019, (go back↩)

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