Reworked Tobacco 21 bill earns Gov. DeSantis’ approval

smoking research
The bill didn't draw a veto this time.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a measure to raise the smoking age to 21.

The bill (SB 1080) passed the House 103-13 last week after passing the Senate 29-9. Lawmakers formally sent the proposal to the Governor earlier Friday.

DeSantis vetoed a similar proposal last year. Nevertheless, the Senate sponsor, Travis Hutson, accurately believed the Governor could sign the measure this year because the bill won’t regulate vaping flavors like last year’s version would have.

“We are working to keep tobacco and nicotine products out of the hands of children,” Tampa Republican Rep. Jackie Toledo said in a news release. “In states where Tobacco-21 legislation has been implemented, these policies have proven to effectively reduce the underage use of tobacco and nicotine that are often shared via social sources or nontraditional retail channels. This legislation is a step in the right direction, demonstrating Florida’s commitment to work with regulators and stakeholders to combat underage use.”

Toledo and Miami Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran have been consistent House sponsors.

DeSantis argued limiting the available vaping flavors reduced ways for smokers to wean themselves off cigarettes, which he said are more dangerous.

The 2021 proposal empowers the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco with broader oversight on the marketing, sale, or delivery of tobacco or nicotine products, including vaping products.

In December 2019, then-President Donald Trump signed a measure raising the federal sales age for tobacco and nicotine to 21. More than 550 local governments and 33 states currently limit tobacco sales to those 21 and older.

Further, vendors will be required to get a new nicotine permit. While a tobacco permit costs $50, the new nicotine permits will be free.

Hutson’s proposal makes an exception for military service members below the age of 21.

Throughout the committee process, the bill and House companion received considerable pushback from several organizations including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. The coalition of cancer interests argues the measure is disguised as a solution to today’s youth tobacco epidemic.

“Instead, it will place Florida in violation of federal law with exceptions for military under 21 and certain tobacco products,” the coalition said in a statement Thursday. “While we’ve long supported raising the age of sale for tobacco products to 21, it’s also a tactic we’ve seen for decades by Big Tobacco to muddle bills with seemingly promising policy.”

When DeSantis shot the related legislation down last year, it had received acclaim from Attorney General Ashley Moody.

“While originally conceived as a bill to rate the legal age to buy tobacco to 21, (which is superfluous given this is already mandated by federal law) … SB 810 effectively bans tobacco-free vaping flavors used by hundreds of thousands of Floridians as a reduced-risk alternative to cigarettes, which are more dangerous,” DeSantis wrote in his veto transmission letter.

Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican, didn’t carry the 2020 bill. That responsibility belonged to former Sen. David Simmons, an Orlando-area Republican.

The law will take effect Oct. 1.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


3 comments

  • John

    May 7, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    What is the age of an adult? 18. 18 you can get drafted and be killed in some foreign proxy war for nothing. 18 you should be able to do everything a 21 year old can do under the law. Smoke, drink, gamble, own a gun and pilot an airliner.

  • Nate

    May 8, 2021 at 8:52 am

    So the state needs money, but exempts the vapers from paying anything for a permit! Bull Shit. Make them pay like you do for tobacco. I am tired of my health care costs going up because of this industry.

    • Jeff Wood

      May 10, 2021 at 2:15 pm

      Since Vaping isn’t causing your health care costs to go up, you should maybe be happy that more smokers will get off cigarettes by vaping, which, if the insurance companies etc. decide you’re worthy, you might see a decrease in your health care costs.

      Vaping is safer than smoking. And before you throw 2019’s “vaping deaths” know that those were *all* from vaping street cartridges containing THC and Vitamin E Acetate, or in other words…not what vape shops in Florida sell.

Comments are closed.


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