Arkansas increases legal age to buy tobacco products

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — A new Arkansas state law could transform the tobacco business moving forward.

The state of Arkansas will amend the Arkansas Tobacco Products Tax of 1977 and increase the required age from 18 to 21 years old to buy tobacco products, that includes cigarettes, vapes and e-products.

The goal of the legislature is to help decrease addiction and dependency, which research shows is more likely to happen at an earlier age.

But some smokers believe, if a young adult under 21 wants tobacco, they’ll find a way to make it happen.

“Yeah, health is wealth, but by stopping it they’re going to smoke regardless,” resident Mo Johnson said. “It wouldn’t stop me because people are going to find a way around it.”

WREG spoke with numerous managers at local tobacco superstores across Arkansas. The corporate chain has 88 stores across the state. Managers told us off-screen that the law could cut a huge loss out of their business.

The law will go into effect on Sunday, September 1, excluding customers who turned 19 before 2020 and members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Also exempt from the new tobacco law is anyone who turns 19 before January 1, 2020. Meaning, if you are 18 when the law begins on September 1, but turn 19 before the end of the year, you’re still allowed to legally buy tobacco products.

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