Sheriff: 18 still legal age to buy tobacco

EVANSTON — With recently signed legislation that raised the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 on the federal level, Uinta County Sheriff Doug Matthews said his office has received many inquiries asking about local sales and regulations. The Federal Drug Administration said in a press release, “It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product — including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes to anyone under 21.”

In a press release issued Wednesday, Matthews said, “This means, under federal law, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess any tobacco products. However, state law enforcement officers and Uinta County Sheriff’s Office deputies cannot enforce federal law. We can only enforce Wyoming State Law. Wyoming law currently allows people ages 18 and older to purchase tobacco products. Governor Gordon would have to sign legislation which [would have to] pass the House and Senate changing the legal age from 18 to 21 before it could become state law and enforceable.”

Matthews added that local laws could change soon.

“There is currently a bill in legislation that was advanced back in September by Wyoming state lawmakers to do exactly that. If passed, it would not go into effect until [the] latter part of 2020,” he said.

“Municipalities are different,” Matthews continued, “and can enact ordinances that can be more restrictive than state statute. So, if you are operating a business or reside in an incorporated city or town inside of Uinta County, I would encourage you [to] check with your local city or town council or mayor to see if there have been any ordinance changes in reference to this matter.”


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