Tobacco 21 Passed on the Federal Level. The Tobacco Sales Age is Now 21 Across the United States and is Enacted by the FDA.


After nearly 20 states – including Pennsylvania – and over 500 localities have risen the tobacco sales age, Tobacco 21 has now passed on the federal level as of December 20, 2019. This law has been enacted by the FDA and is now being enforced across the country. In Pennsylvania, the law officially went into effect as of July 1, 2020.

For questions about what a national Tobacco 21 law now means for retailers, visit the FDA’s website here.


How is the new Tobacco 21 law being enforced?


In July 2020, PACT partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to distribute educational Tobacco 21 materials and signage to over 15,000 retailers and other tobacco product retailers across the Commonwealth. Signage and materials continue to remain available for free to provide awareness and knowledge of this new law.

To review information on Tobacco 21 for retailers, please visit the Retailer Resources page of our website.


How else are we creating Tobacco 21 awareness in PA?


In partnership with the Regional Tobacco-Free Coalitions through the American Lung Association, PACT and TRU have collaborated to establish a Tobacco 21 Awareness Campaign for college and university campuses in Pennsylvania, since the age increase more significantly impacted those aged 18 – 21.


Tobacco 21 College Awareness Campaign


The overall goal of this campaign is to educate the 18-21 age range population about the new Tobacco 21 Federal Law, working with college campuses and directing them to PACT and the American Lung Association for more information and assistance with quitting tobacco products, if needed.  In addition to educational awareness and cessation services, this campaign also aspires to assist college campuses either enact or strengthen comprehensive tobacco-free campus policies to protect students’ and staff’s lungs from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

For more information about our Tobacco-Free Campus program, please visit our Tobacco-Free Policy resource page.

For help with quitting, please refer to the Regional Pennsylvania Tobacco-Free Coalitions website by clicking here to view all of the helpful resources available to you.

To check out our campaign resources, please visit the Tobacco 21 Resources tab found on the right-hand side of this page.



According to a 2015 report from the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), a nationwide minimum legal age of sale of 21 will:

  • Immediately improve the health of adolescents and young adults;
  • Decrease tobacco use among adults by 12% by the time today’s teenagers become adults;
  • Prevent 223,000 premature deaths due to tobacco use;
  • Result in 50,000 fewer lung cancer deaths; and
  • Save 4.2 million years of life that would otherwise be lost to tobacco-related premature death among those born between 2000 and 2019.[v]
Foot Notes

[i] Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. The Toll of Tobacco in Pennsylvania. 2016. Available

[ii] Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products. Report Brief, March 2015. Available