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Minimum Age

21 years old is the minimum age for customers to purchase (or for anyone to sell, buy for, or distribute samples of, or furnish) any tobacco products, vapor products, alternative nicotine products, or e-liquid products. (See Restricted Products section).   

Any person who sells Restricted Products in any form or cigarette papers shall have the right to deny a sale to any person.


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.

Restricted Products

Tobacco in any form, including e-cigarettes, vapor products, alternative nicotine products, e-liquid products, cigarette papers and herbal snuff.


FDA regulations apply to these tobacco products defined under the Tobacco Control Act as any product made or derived from tobacco or containing nicotine from any source (e.g., synthetic nicotine) that is intended for human consumption.

  • 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.
  • Cigars
  • Hookah & Pipe tobacco
  • Dissolvable tobacco products
  • Nicotine gels
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), which are products such as:
    • e-cigarettes
    • e-hookah
    • ecigars
    • vape pens
    • advanced refillable personal vaporizers
    • electronic pipes
    • Components and Parts, such as:
      • e-liquids**
      • atomizers
      • batteries (with or without variable voltage)
      • cartomizers (atomizer plus replaceable fluid-filled cartridge)
      • digital display/lights to adjust settings
      • clearomisers
      • tank systems
      • flavors
      • 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

Acceptable Forms of Identification

A valid document issued by a governmental agency containing a description and/or a photograph of the person and bearing a date of birth including, without being limited to, a passport, U.S. Armed Forces military identification card, or driver's license.


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.

Fine/Penalty Schedule for Selling to Minors

An employee or owner who violates this provision will be subject to a fine not to exceed $100 per violation (plus court costs).

A notice of alleged violation containing the date and time of the violation and information concerning the person who made the illegal sale shall be given to the retailer within 10 days of the alleged violation.

Retailers who have received a notice of an alleged violation from the Arkansas Tobacco Control Board shall be subject to either criminal or civil penalties or fines of up to $250 for a first violation within 48 months of the notice, a fine of up to $500 and suspension of license for up to two (2) days for the second violation within 48 months, a fine of up to $1,000 and suspension of license for up to seven (7) days for a third violation within 48 months, a fine of up to $2,000 and suspension of license for up to 14 days for a fourth or subsequent violation within 48 months and a fine of up to $2,000 and a possible license revocation for a fifth (5) violation within 48 months. The Arkansas Tobacco Control Board maintains a record of all permits and licenses issued, suspended, denied, or revoked in a form that identifies the licensees and the location of the licensed or permitted premises.

Any retailer, individual or corporation that is prosecuted for a criminal violation shall not be subject to additional civil prosecution under the same facts.

Retailers are required to have each employee read and sign a Tobacco Server Awareness Form. This form is to be kept on file, and available for inspection. Failure to comply will result in fines being issued to the permit holder for each employee who does not have a signed server awareness form on file.


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.

Affirmative Defense

No penalty for a violation shall be imposed upon a retailer or agent or employee of such retailer who can establish that, prior to the date of the violation, the retailer or agent or employee of the retailer furnishing the tobacco in any form or cigarette papers reasonably relied upon proof of age which identified the person receiving the Restricted Product as being 21 years or older.

When reviewing a possible violation, the court shall consider whether the retailer adopted and enforced a written policy against selling cigarettes or tobacco products to minors, informed its employees of the applicable laws, required employees to verify the age of customers using photographic identification, established and imposed disciplinary sanctions for noncompliance, and that the appearance of the purchaser was such that an ordinary prudent person would believe him or her to be of legal age to make the purchase.


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.”

Minor Possession

The possession, purchase, attempted purchase or use of any form of Restricted Products by a minor (anyone under 21 years old unless they meet one of the two EXCEPTIONS of either an Active Duty military personnel, presenting a military ID or they have attained 19 years of age by December 31, 2019, is prohibited, unless acting within the scope of employment. The use of any falsified identification, or any identification other than his or her own, for the purpose of obtaining or attempting to obtain Restricted Products is prohibited. Any Restricted Products found in the possession of a minor may be confiscated by a certified law enforcement officer or a school official and immediately destroyed.

If a minor is found to be in violation of a criminal statute, AND is found to be in possession of a Restricted Product, the Court may order the minor to perform up to three (3) hours of community service and  enroll in a tobacco education  program - in addition to any other punishment imposed by the Court.


Not applicable under Federal law

Sign Requirement


A sign must be displayed in a conspicuous place indicating that the sale of Restricted Products, or purchase of, or possession of Restricted Products by a person under the age of 21 years of age is prohibited by law. Failure to post signs will subject retailer to fines as outined in the Fines section. 

HARD COPY: Send a self addressed stamped envelope and a letter with how many signs you are requesting to: Arkansas Tobacco Control Board, 101 East Capitol Ave., Suite 401, Little Rock, AR 72201-3826.

See also:


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.  

We Card - FDA Required Sign


Compliance Checks

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. Persons under 18 years of age may be enlisted to assist an authorized agent or representative of a state or local law enforcement authority, the Arkansas Tobacco Control Board, the Arkansas Department of Health, the Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services or other state governmental agency in compliance testing with written parental or legal guardian consent. The minor, if questioned by the retailer or the agent or employee of the retailer about his or her age, shall state his or her actual age and shall present a true and correct identification if verbally asked to present it. Any failure on the part of the minor person to provide true and correct identification, if asked for it, shall be a defense.


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

The FDA indicates that it will conduct follow-up compliance checks on stores found in violation.

Minor License Visual Characteristics

Vertical format with a black "UNDER 18 UNTIL 00-00-0000" in a yellow bar below the photo, and a white "UNDER 21 UNTIL 00-00- 0000" in a red bar below yellow bar. Photo and Date of birth have red borders. Also note: an "intermediate" license includes a yellow map of Arkansas and a learner's permit includes a white map. For more information and/or an image, visit here


Not applicable under Federal law




See additional information and requirements on advertising, labeling and promotion requirements -- available here.

Last updated 04/2022