A federal law is now in effect banning the sale of tobacco and e-cig products to those under 21, but state law still allows those 18 and up to purchase, a situation that’s creating some confusion.

Louisiana ATC Commissioner Juana Lombard says if you’re a retailer that is contemplating selling those products to someone 18-21, here’s the deal, “You can under Louisiana law. You are not breaking Louisiana law, you are breaking a federal law, so if a federal agency were to come in you would be in violation of the federal law,” She adds there are now federal agencies actively enforcing that law.

Lombard says the issue stems from a lack of guidance from the FDA, who put the law into effect before answering some key questions about how it would work.

“The federal rule came into effect, and there was a lot of confusion because initially there was supposed to be some kind of rule promulgation grace period, but apparently the rule is in effect immediately,” says Marine-Lombard. The initial legislation signed by the President that made the change had a 180 day grace period, but for reasons unknown, the FDA put it into effect immediately.

The Commissioner says the FDA informed her that they are working diligently to provide clarity and guidance but in the meantime, many state enforcers are relying on their own, local statutes.

“Right now all the states seem to be in a state of confusion. Some states are standing by their state law, and some are adopting the federal law. I think it probably has a lot to do with how their state statues are written, but ours is clear,” says Lombard.

The lack of guidance also leaves questions about potential exemptions for military members or others unclear.

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