21 years old is the minimum-age law (both a federal law and a state law).
It is illegal for any person to sell, barter, exchange, or give to any individual under 21 years of age any tobacco, tobacco product, electronic delivery nicotine system, or alternative nicotine product (e-cigarettes).
Retail employees under 21 years old: Employees under 21 year of age may handle, transport or sell Restricted Products if acting within the scope of employment and if in the presence of the store owner or another employee who is 21 years of age or older.
Deny sales to anyone under 21 years old for FDA regulated products (SEE Restricted Products section).
Note: The new federal 21 year minimum-age for FDA regulated products of all tobacco and vaping products (SEE Restricted Products section) was declared immediately effective on December 20, 2019. This law allows for no exceptions.
You must Check photo ID of everyone appearing under age 30 who attempts to purchase FDA regulated products and verify the customer is of legal age to purchase. This is an each-and-every time requirement (even if you know the person to be of legal are.) If you "carded" them yesterday, you must "card" them again today!
Decline a sale when the customer is underage, has no photo ID, the photo ID contains no date-of-birth or the photo ID has expired.
Tobacco or tobacco product, electronic delivery nicotine system, or alternative nicotine product (e-cigarettes).
Tobacco or tobacco includes: Any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption, including any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product, except for raw materials other than tobacco used in manufacturing a component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product.
FDA regulations apply to these tobacco products.
- Cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco
- Do NOT break open cigarette packages to sell products in smaller amounts.
- Do NOT sell single cigarettes, also called "loosies."
- Do NOT sell cigarette packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes.
- Do NOT sell flavored cigarettes, cigarette tobacco or roll-your-own tobacco (other than menthol or tobacco.)
- Only sell in a direct face-to-face exchange*.
- Smokeless tobacco
- Do NOT break open packages to sell products in smaller amounts.
- Only sell in a direct face-to-face exchange*.
- Do NOT sell without a health warning label.
- Hookah & Pipe tobacco
- Dissolvable tobacco products
- Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), which are products such as:
- vape pens
- advanced refillable personal vaporizers
- electronic pipes
- Components and Parts, such as:
- batteries (with or without variable voltage)
- cartomizers (atomizer plus replaceable fluid-filled cartridge)
- digital display/lights to adjust settings
- tank systems
- vials that contain e-liquids
- programmable software
- Do NOT give away free samples of any of these FDA regulated products or components and parts. EXCEPTION: Free samples of smokeless tobacco are only allowed in a "qualified adult-only facility" -- where no person younger than 21 is permitted to enter or be present (or a higher minimum-age if your state or locality has a higher age limit.)
- Do NOT sell in vending machines UNLESS you operate a "qualified adult-only facility" -- where no person younger than 21 is permitted to enter or be present (or a higher minimum-age if your state or locality has a higher age limit.) Some state laws prohibit tobacco product vending machines. Check your state law.
EXCLUDED from FDA regulation are accessories, such as: ashtrays, spittoons, hookah tongs, cigar clips and stands, pipe pouches, humidors.
* The sale of cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and smokeless tobacco through vending machines and self-service displays are allowed ONLY in adult-only facilities where no person younger than 21 is permitted to enter or be present (or a higher minimum-age if your state or locality has a higher age limit.)
** Retail establishments, such as vape shops, that mix and/or prepare e-liquids or assemble vaporizers are considered "tobacco product manufacturers." Many separate regulations will apply. See FDA regulations for tobacco product manufacturers at www.fda.gov.
Valid driver's license issued by any state with a photograph of the presenting individual; United States Uniform Service Identification; valid passport or valid photo identification card issued by any state agency for the purpose of identification with the date of birth of the presenting individual.
Unless otherwise required by state or local law, FDA recommends that retailers accept only government-issued photographic identification with the bearer’s date of birth. (e.g., State-issued driver’s license or identification card, military identification card, passport or immigration card) for establishing a legal age to purchase FDA regulated products. The Photo ID is not acceptable if it has expired.
Any person who sells, barters, exchanges or gives to any individual under the age of 21 years any Restricted Products shall, upon conviction, be fined not less than $100 nor more than $300 and may be imprisoned in county jail for not more than 30 days.
Any store owner or employee found in violation of civil statutes prohibiting the sale of tobacco to any individual under the age of 21 years shall be subject to the following remedies: for a first violation, a fine of not more than $200, and ordered to attend a training session administered by the board’s Responsible Vendor Program; for a second violation at the same location within a two-year period, a fine of not more than $400; for a third violation at the same location in a two-year period, a fine of not more than $750; and for the fourth violation at the same location within a two-year period, a fine of not more than $1,000 and possible suspension or revocation of permit. Failure to pay fines within seven calendar days of the day the fine results in the automatic suspension of permit by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) until the fine is paid.
FDA has a variety of enforcement tools to address retailers who violate Federal statutes or regulations, including civil money penalties, warning letters, seizures, injunctions, no-sale orders and/or criminal prosecution. Retailers who violate the regulations may also be in violation of state law and subject to state penalties or other related orders. Fines and penalties shown here are as of January 17, 2020.
Federal law provides that the FDA shall adopt regulations that may provide any retailer that implements the “approved training program,” a reduced civil money penalty if that retailer is found in violation. The FDA does not require training, but it recommends retailers train and educate their employees.
Until the FDA issues guidance or regulations on what constitutes an FDA “approved training program,” the FDA indicates “the agency intends to use a lower maximum civil money penalties schedule for all retailers who violate the regulations restricting the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, whether or not they have implemented a training program. However, FDA may consider further reducing the civil money penalty for retailers who have implemented a training program.”
It is unlawful for any individual under the age of 21 years to purchase, use, possess or transport Restricted Products. Employees under the age of 21 years may handle, transport or sell Restricted Products if acting within the scope of employment and if in the presence of the store owner or another employee who is 21 years of age or older.
Fake ID: It is unlawful for any individual under the age of 21 years to present or offer false or fraudulent proof of identification, or identification that is not his or hers, in order to buy, or attempt to buy, receive or otherwise obtain tobacco or tobacco products. Any individual under the age of 21 years violating these provisions of Alabama law shall be fined not less than $10 or more than $50 for each violation, and shall be accessed no other court costs or fees, and the Restricted Product or false identification shall be seized as contraband.
Not applicable under Federal law
Two state-required signs:
For tobacco retailers: Any person who distributes tobacco products shall post conspicuously a sign that is placed in a way that it is likely to be read by those seeking to purchase or obtain tobacco or tobacco products. The sign shall state:
"Alabama law strictly prohibits the purchase of tobacco products by persons under the age of 21 years. Proof of age is required for the purchase of tobacco products."
For specialty retailers of vaping products: Any specialty retailer of electronic nicotine delivery systems shall post in a prominent area of the retail store near the point-of-sale a sign which contains the following statements:
“ALABAMA LAW STRICTLY PROHIBITS THE PURCHASE OF ALTERNATIVE NICOTINE PRODUCTS AND ELECTRONIC NICOTINE DELIVERY SYSTEMS BY PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 21 YEARS.”
“THE USE OF SOME VAPING DEVICES MAY INCREASE YOUR RISK OF EXPOSURE TO POTENTIALLY TOXIC LEVELS OF HEAVY METALS SUCH AS LEAD, CHROMIUM, AND NICKEL.”
“WARNING: VAPING PRODUCTS OFFERED FOR SALE IN THIS STORE CONTAIN NICOTINE UNLESS OTHERWISE MARKED. NICOTINE IS A HIGHLY ADDICTIVE CHEMICAL WHICH CAN HARM BRAIN DEVELOPMENT IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS AND WHICH POSES SERIOUS HEALTH RISKS TO PREGNANT WOMEN AND THEIR BABIES.”
Effective 8/10/18: For retailers who sell cigars individually without packaging, there is an FDA sign requirement. Download We Card's Sign
Alert: A U.S. District court overturned this regulation in February 2020. However, there are expectations this regulation will be revisited and may be reinstated after ongoing adjustments or legal matters before the courts. Therefore, retailers need to be prepared for this requirement IF it is required once the legal matters are resolved by the court.
Cigars Sold Individually without Packaging - Retailers who sell cigars individually, and not in a product package must post a sign at each point-of-sale that displays all six of the required warning statements per 21 CFR § 1143.5(a)(3). Each sign must be at least 8.5x11 inches in size; clear, legible, and conspicuous; printed in black Helvetica bold or Arial bold type or other similar sans serif fonts against a solid white background, in at least 17-point font size with appropriate spacing between the warning statements; posted on or within 3 inches of each cash register where payment may be made; and unobstructed in its entirety and read easily by each consumer making a purchase. The required warning statements on the sign must be: printed in a manner that contrasts, by typography, layout, or color, with all other printed material; and capitalized and punctuated as indicated above.
As a condition of receiving federal substance abuse block grant funds, federal law requires the state to conduct random, unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets to determine compliance rates. The Board coordinates the inspections. Minors may be used, provided that they have the advanced written consent of their parents or guardians, are under the age of 18, and are under the supervision of proper state authorities. The Board shall maintain records and produce an annual report that includes data concerning the success rate of compliance checks, and youth access to tobacco rates.
FDA conducts compliance checks of retail stores to determine whether retailers are complying with the new federal law, using:
- Attempted purchases of tobacco using underage customers.
- Inspections of stores for other compliance requirements.
- Inspections of stores in response to public complaints to the FDA’s request for the general public to report suspected store violations (1-877-CTP-1373 or AskCTP@fda.hhs.gov)
The FDA indicates that it will conduct follow-up compliance checks on stores found in violation.
Minor licenses are vertical. Under 18/21 cards display the words "UNDER 18 UNTIL" and/or "UNDER 21 UNTIL" followed by the date the cardholder will turn 18 or 21 in bold red text. This text is positioned vertically next to the portrait. On older licenses, it is printed in a red header beside the state name and the photo is on the right side of the license. For more information and/or an image, visit: Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
Not applicable under Federal law
Any person who sells, barters, exchanges or gives away Restricted Products at retail shall first obtain a permit from the Board. Permits, which are free, are ONLY valid for a single location, and must be renewed annually. Failure to obtain or display a valid permit shall constitute a misdemeanor offense. Each violation for selling tobacco products without a valid permit shall be treated as a separate offense and will be punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500 for the first violation; and not less than $500 or more than $1500 for subsequent violations.
Alabama law specifically applies its provisions prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to under aged purchasers to sales and deliveries made based on remote orders (i.e., on-line, via telephone, etc.).
See additional information and requirements on advertising, labeling and promotion requirements -- available here.