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Arkansas

During their legislative session, Arkansas law makers voted to raise the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21 over a two year period.  The law goes into effect on September 1, 2019.

Tobacco21.org opposed the Arkansas law because it failed to include components of a strong Tobacco 21 law (i.e. it lacked adequate enforcement, did not place sufficient penalties on the retailers for selling harmful products) and added preemption provisions, which significantly undermine local public health efforts in the state of Arkansas.

Recent updates! – Tobacco 21 Progress

In June, 2016 Helena-West Helena became the first city in the Arkansas to pass a Tobacco 21 ordinance by an astounding 9-0 vote. Keisha Grigsby and the Family and Youth enrichment network proposed and helped to draft the ordinance. They deserve a standing ovation, along with the council members who listened and acted to protect the young lives in their community.

Arkansas has one of the highest rates of high school smoking and adult smoking in the country. This will result in the eventual deaths of an estimated 69,000 children now under the age of 18 due to smoking, with 1,700 children becoming daily smokers every year. The state spends only 29.7% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, this is almost a 50% decrease in funding since 2016. The state’s annual health care costs due to smoking is $1.21 billion, and the state loses $1.7 billion in productivity every year due to smoking.

Recent Updates

  • 2/2019 – The Arkansas legislature raised the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. However, the law did include a grandfather clause. The law goes into effect on September 1, 2019. Tobacco21.org did not support the Arkansas law because it failed to include components of a strong Tobacco 21 law (i.e. it lacked enforcement, did not place sufficient penalties on the retailers for selling harmful products) and included preemption provisions, which undermine local public health efforts in the state of Arkansas.

  • 09/27/2018 – Harrison becomes the third locality in Arkansas to pass a Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 09/03/2018 – Phillips County becomes the second community and the first county in Arkansas to pass a Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 2/27/2017House Bill 1711 introduced by Representative Fred Allen and 6 other Democrat co-sponsors; read and referred to House Committee on Rules

  • 6/8/2016 – Helena-West Helena becomes first city in state to pass a Tobacco 21 ordinance

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Other Helpful Resources:

Tobacco Free Kids Arkansas

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.

American Lung Association State Report Card

The ALA ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and federal levels, and assigns grades based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of January 2, 2014.

SLATI State Information Arkansas

SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues) is an extensively researched and invaluable source of information on tobacco control laws and policy, and is the only up-to-date and comprehensive summary of state tobacco control laws.


The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids support these four principles for Tobacco 21 ordinances:

  1. Include all tobacco and nicotine products, specifically e-cigarettes. The only exceptions would be FDA recognized nicotine replacement products (gum, patch, etc.) intended for cessation.
  2. Include significant enforcement provisions against illegal sales as research shows that consistent enforcement is of critical importance.
  3. Not include any pre-emption against local authority in more stringent regulation of tobacco or other nicotine product sales, secondhand smoke, or e-cigarette vapor.
  4. Ideally not include possession, usage, or purchase (PUP) penalties that result in criminal records, and instead place the onus on the purveyors of these addictive products.

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