You must now be at least 21 to buy cigarettes, tobacco products in US

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president Dec. 20 that raises the legal age limit on all tobacco sales from 18 to 21 nationwide goes into effect immediately.

The bipartisan bill enacted last week by Congress also applies to electronic cigarettes and vaping products using nicotine liquid, The Associated Press reported.

Because the change only involved increasing the age limit in existing law, it is able to go into effect immediately, a FDA spokesman told the AP. Stores face fines for noncompliance or could be barred from selling tobacco products for repeat violations, the AP reported.

About one-third of states already had their own laws restricting tobacco sales to people 21 and older, the AP reported.

Anti-smoking advocates support the change, saying the age limit increase should make it more difficult for young people, particularly high school students, to gain access to tobacco products. Vaping nicotine products has grown in popularity with high school students in recent years, with more than 1 in 4 high school students claiming to have used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.