The Wyoming Legislature will have a lot on its plate as it begins the biennial budget session Monday, but one issue that could get plenty of attention is whether the state should update its tobacco laws to be consistent with a new federal government mandate.

In December, the federal legal age limit to buy and sell tobacco rose from 18 to 21. Senate File 50 would make the same move at the state level.

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A couple of thoughts on this. First, noncompliant retailers who are caught selling tobacco products to folks under 21 years old will face Food and Drug Administration scrutiny. While the state debates whether they want to raise the age, thus allowing Wyoming law enforcement to enforce, the FDA federal inspectors can and do perform compliance checks with much stiffer penalties than the state is proposing, including eliminating their ability to sell tobacco products altogether. Few legislators know this I guess. The FDA has enforcement authority of the 21 year old age issue whether the state determines to go that way or not. Second, the military has been trying for years to eliminate tobacco use by ALL of its members. While I appreciate the notion that a person could place themselves in harms way for our freedom while being limited in their ability to smoke (like drinking alcoholic beverages), the military is on record saying that "Be all you can be" did not include becoming addicted to a life altering drug that diminishes performance and acuity. I fully understand the knee jerk to federalism overreach but this issue is a settled question whether Wyoming's legislators want to endorse or not. I'm just saying...….

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