LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Many people look forward to turning 18. That’s when you officially become an adult, you can vote, buy lottery tickets, but you soon won’t be able to buy tobacco products.
The age to buy in Arkansas is going up next week. Eighteen different states in the country, including Arkansas, you must be 21 years old to buy tobacco products.
At Tobacco Outlet off Arch Street in Little Rock, the shop stays busy. The new change has them on their toes.
“A lot of the customers aren’t quite happy about it, but it’s mandatory,” Geneva Wooten said.
Starting Sunday, the age to buy tobacco products in Arkansas will be 21 instead of 18.
“That includes cigarette lighters, rolling papers, cigars, cigarettes, all of it, Wooten said. “The vape juice, e-cig devices, anything related to tobacco, you have to be 21.”
The Arkansas Department of Health supports the change. Dr. Gary Wheeler says he hopes this breaks the cycle of nicotine addiction.
“Over the long haul, it’s going to be really good for Arkansas in terms of reducing the number of people who are using tobacco.” Dr. Wheeler said. “What we know is that there is a natural flow of tobacco products from people who are immediately above the sale age.”
Wooten says she also supports the change. She has two high school students and says e-cigarettes are gaining popularity among younger crowds.
“I think it’s a good thing. Kids need to be concentrating on kids stuff. They want to grow up too fast as it is,” she said.
She says the light up will have to wait.
“When the age of accountability is there, they can buy it, they just have to wait,” Wooten said.
There are some exceptions, if a person turns 19 before December 31, 2019, or is active duty military, they can still buy.