Tobacco 21 – What You Need to Know to Stay Compliant

Posted by Liesl Christle - August 13, 2019


Compliance is one of the biggest topics (and sometimes challenges!) for learning and development, and often there is a struggle to find that sweet spot between satisfying legal regulations and creating engaging, interactive content. Then throw into the mix the fact that compliance content is in a constant state of flux which requires training to be updated frequently, and you’ve got yourself a bit of a compliance training conundrum!


In the News

The latest change in age-related compliance centers around raising the legal purchase age of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21 years of age. In 2015, a report was provided to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the public health implications of raising the minimum age of purchase tobacco products. In this, the Institute of Medicine was "reasonably confident that raising the MLA (minimum legal age) will reduce tobacco use initiation, particularly among adolescents 15 to 17 years of age." However, it also states that this depends on the degree to which local and state governments change their policies.

Fast forward to this past year, and the overall shift in age requirements based on this report are starting to become prevalent. From this report, as well as Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation's "Tobacco 21" campaign (supported by other associations such as the American Lung Association), over 475 cities and counties in 29 states have shifted their age requirement to that of 21, with some states opting for a statewide policy.

But this shift in age requirements isn’t limited to just local and statewide policies. Retailers such as Walmart and Walgreens are requiring that tobacco buyers be 21 years of age now as well.


What Does This Mean for My Compliance Training?

With this push, you need to be ready to create or change training based upon your individual circumstances. Your company may even have age-related training already in place. Here are 3 quick tips on how you can leverage your knowledge of the new policies and adapt to meet the needs of your audience, while keeping you in compliance with legal requirements.

  • Be proactive and work with your teams – Depending on your company size and your role, teams within your company such as Legal or Human Resources may have a good pulse on what’s on the horizon (that person may even be you!). Coordinate touch bases with them to ensure that you are up to speed with what could be changing on a city, county, or state level and how you may need to adjust your current training in order to stay compliant.
  • Be flexible but identify your "must do's" – With no federal mandate set yet, the training needs could be dictated by your company (like in the case of retailers like Walgreens and Walmart) or by the cities/states that your business operates in. So even the best-laid training plans need to be flexible and allow you to pivot as needed! This will ensure you are addressing any immediate learning needs, as well as adapting your overall training strategy for the long term.
  • Develop blended learning for today AND tomorrow – To allow for flexibility, the best approach to address any immediate needs may be one that is comprised of several different content delivery methods. Creating training equivalents through eLearning, an Instructor Led Training (ILT), or other training methods will have you covering a wider base with your audience than if you just picked one by itself. You can also use this as an opportunity to evaluate what sticks and what doesn’t for your audience and adapt your future training plan from there.

Hopefully these quick tips have you feeling informed and ready to take your conundrum and turn it into a compliance win!

Topics: Compliance Training

Recent Posts