Prevent nicotine sales to youth

It is illegal throughout the United States for retailers to sell nicotine products including both cigarettes and electronic versions of them to anyone under 21 years of age. The provision became law Dec. 20, when President Donald Trump signed a bill approved overwhelmingly by Congress.

Apparently, there is some confusion about the new restriction, though. Employees at some local stores said they had received no official notification about the new law. No doubt that will change soon.

In New Hampshire, a recently passed state law upped the age to purchase both types of nicotine-delivery systems to age 19. The new federal law changes that here and in any other state that had not adjusted its purchasing-age requirement to 21 previously.

Given the federal approach to many health and safety regulations, New Hampshire has no choice but to enforce the 21-year age mandate. Failure to do so could jeopardize federal funding for a variety of purposes in our state.

Granite State legislators still should enact such a bill this term, and Gov. Chris Sununu should sign it into law. At least that would give local and state agencies and officials firmer guidance on nicotine sales.

Once the new state law is in effect, local authorities should take active roles in enforcing it, much as they do already regarding alcoholic beverage sales to minors. Sales clerks and establishments failing to abide by the rule on nicotine products should be punished. Too many Granite Staters already are hooked on nicotine without allowing a new generation to be pulled in.