The Marathon County Health Department reminds tobacco retailers that the legal age to purchase tobacco is 21, and has been for one year.
Health Educator Jenna Flynn says even though state statutes are different, the federal law is what should be followed.
“It is important for retailers to understand that it is a federal law, and they do have to comply.”
Flynn says they have made several educational materials available to retailers and are working on promotional display items as well.
“We frequently do mailers to get them the information. We’re working on a project right now to get them Tobacco 21 window clings. We have a website available as well that retailers can visit.”
Flynn says they are currently relying on retailers to police themselves as the county suspended the tobacco compliance checks when the pandemic hit.
“Typically we do 80 checks in Marathon County. We haven’t been able to do any so as an alternative we’ve done several more outreach activities to retailers, community members, law enforcement, local leaders so they’re all aware of this change.”
Flynn says the change was needed to keep minors from ever picking up the tobacco habit.
“This is just one tool in our toolbox that if it can help prevent use or delay of nicotine and prevent that nicotine addiction from every happening in the first place… that’s a huge success for tobacco prevention”.
Wisconsin's state statute has yet to be updated to reflect the change, and Flynn says there's no word on when that change may occur.