Change in federal law causes confusion

Bulletin photo by Floyd Whiting

Although many retailers have adopted the new, federal age requirement of 21 to purchase tobacco, Buffalo police will continue to enforce the 18-year-old age requirement until the state statute or city ordinance change to reflect the federal law.

The Buffalo Police Department will continue to enforce the 18-year-old minimum age requirement for tobacco products until the state statute or city ordinance changes.

That’s according to Buffalo Police Chief Jason Carder, who said that until state or city laws align with the new federal law, which raised the age to 21 to buy tobacco products, city law enforcement will continue to issue citations to anyone under the age of 18.

Carder said that federal law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI or the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, can check compliance with local vendors. City law enforcement has no federal jurisdiction.  

“That’s an option, between the local business and the feds,” Carder said “But for us locally, nothing changes until (Wyoming) legislation changes the age or until city council changes their ordinance.”

Many tobacco retailers in Buffalo have already adopted the federal law by placing signs on their doors and at their checkout lines informing customers that the minimum age to purchase tobacco is 21.  

Local police officers will continue to conduct compliance checks enforcing the 18-year-old age requirement, Carder said.

President Donald Trump signed the new federal age requirement for the purchase of tobacco products, which went into effect on Dec. 20, as part of a $1.4 trillion dollar spending bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced the bipartisan proposal in May, according to a story published by the Associated Press.

The Wyoming Joint Committee on Revenue voted to change the age requirement in the state in September 2019 to try to limit the use of tobacco products such as e-cigarettes by anyone younger than 21. That bill will now go to the full Legislature in February, according to the AP.

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