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July 1 ushers in new tobacco, vaping age of 21

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) -- At the end of last year, a federal law raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 for buying or using tobacco and vaping products.

That change left Indiana lawmakers scrambling to update state law to comply -- and it officially goes into effect Wednesday, July 1.

Retailers had been carding people wanting to buy tobacco and vaping products since the beginning of the year, even though different federal agencies gave conflicting information about enforcement.

Now that the state law will be official Wednesday, there's a clear answer.

As of July 1, you must be 21 to purchase or use tobacco or vaping products in Indiana.

Non-smoker Elizabeth Gustin agrees with the minimum age increase.

"From personal experience, I know definitely for me, that's kind of what it felt. I'm an adult now, so I definitely agree that you should definitely have to be 21 regardless of what kind of tobacco product it is. 21 is definitely more reasonable than 18," she says.

I'm sure there's some people that think that if they can vote at 18, why can't they smoke at 18? So that's up to the state, obviously, they made it a law and they made a change," Gary Peisert agrees.

Other people say if you're old enough to drive, vote, and enlist in the military, that should mean you're an adult instead of waiting until you're 21.

"I was just grown and now I'm waiting to be grown again, I guess, because 18 would be the legal age for everything, and now it's 21 for everything including alcohol like it's always been," 20-year-old Keanani Pasene-Keahi says.

"I feel like it's a way of life telling me don't keep it a habit. It just makes it a lot harder for people our age to keep doing it," young smoker Cassandra Buitron says.

Leaders at Tobacco Free Allen County have said raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 could make a significant impact on young people's long-term health, saying nearly 90% of people addicted to nicotine started using before they turned 21.

Retailers now can be fined if they're caught selling to anyone younger than 21.

Also as of Wednesday, you can not hold your cell phone while driving or at a stop light.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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