Raising the age to 21 to purchase tobacco products affecting local businesses

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — President Trump signed legislation last week making it illegal to purchase tobacco products under the age of 21.

Usually new legislation doesn’t take effect right away, but this change increased the age limit in an existing law, so it was able to take effect immediately.

This new law was part of a massive spending bill passed by Congress. About one-third of states already had their own laws restricting tobacco sales to people 21 and older.

Many stores in Louisville are now advertising the new change with signs, but are nervous about how it will affect business. 

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Shops like Cox’s Smoker’s Outlet Downtown say the bulk of their customers fall in that 18-20 year old range. They spend a lot of money on vaping materials, which is income the store will now not have.

“We just got informed about a couple days ago and I think it’s real stupid because that’s most of my customers,” said Asya Cox, an employee. “When they hit 18 they come here, right when they hit 18.”

The FDA says tobacco retailers play a direct role in protecting kids from nicotine addiction and the deadly efforts of tobacco use.

But employees like  Cox, are worried about the lengths these young adults will go to get a product that’s now illegal to purchase.

“I feel like since 18 was already the age for smoking, people are already used to it, they are already using it, you can’t just tell someone they can’t have something after they already bought it for themselves,” Cox said.

And as someone behind the register, she’s got to start from scratch.

“Once I see a face once I don’t have to see it again. So now I have to record all of my customers because most of them are like about 19 to 20,” Cox said.

As stores continue to implement this new law, Asya says the hardest part is saying no to people she’s served for years.

“I have a lot of regulars too that come. So it”s like you have to turn them away and it feels so awful when you have to turn away a regular and say you can’t get this anymore,” Cox said.

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