Customers must be 21 years or older to purchase tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vapor products (See Restricted Products section). The sale, gift or delivery of restricted products to persons under age 21 is prohibited, unless the person under 21 years of age is acting in the course of employment.
Carding Requirement: Retailers must Ask-for-ID for customers of Restricted Products who appear to be Under 30 years old.
Each retailer or employee shall require a person who is attempting to purchase restricted products, whose age is in question, to exhibit proper proof of age. If a person fails to provide such proof of age, such retailer or employee shall not make the sale.
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 in any form, vapor products (such as e-cigarettes) and electronic nicotine delivery systems, including but not limited to any product made or derived from tobacco and intended for human consumption, or likely to be consumed, whether smoked, heated, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled or ingested by any other means, including, but not limited to, a cigar, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff and snus, and any component or accessor thereof, including but not limited to, a filter, rolling paper or pipe.
Vapor product means any product that employs a heating element, power source, electronic circuit or other electronic, chemical or mechanical means, regardless of shape or size, to produce a vapor that may include nicotine, that is inhaled by the user or such product.
Electronic nicotine delivery system means an electronic device used in the delivery of nicotine or other substances to a person inhaling from the device, and includes, but is not limited to, an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe or electronic hookah and any related device and any cartridge or other component of such device.
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.
A motor vehicle operator's license, a valid passport or an identity card issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. If a person fails to provide such proof of age, a retailer or employee shall not sell cigarettes or tobacco products to the person.
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.
Violators will be fined not more than $300 for the first offense; not more than $750 for any second offense on or before 36-months after the date of the first violation or subsequent violation after the first violation; and not more than $1,000 for each subsequent offense on or before 36-months after the date of the first violation. The Commissioner of Revenue Services may require the employee to complete online tobacco prevention education program administered by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services within 30 days. If the employee fails to successfully complete the training, the Commissioner shall assess a civil penalty of $200. For a second or subsequent violation within a 24-month period, the Commissioner shall assess a $250 civil penalty.
The Commissioner may also require the retailer to complete the training as noted above, and failure to do so within 30 days, may bring a civil penalty of $300. For a second violation on or before 36-months after the date of the first violation, the Commissioner shall access a $750 civil penalty. For a third violation on or before 36-months after the date of the first violation, a $1,000 civil penalty and a license or certificate suspension of at least 30 days. For a fourth violation, on or before 36-months after the date of the first violation, the Commissioner shall assess a $1,000 civil money penalty and revoke any license or certificate.
A seller may perform a transaction scan to check the validity of a driver's license or identity card presented by a cardholder as a condition for selling, giving away or otherwise distributing restricted products to the cardholder. No retailer or employee shall electronically or mechanically record or maintain any information derived from a transaction scan, except the following: the name, date of birth, and expiration date and identification number of the card. Any person who violates this subsection shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.
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.
It is a defense that all of the following occurred: (a) a cardholder presented a driver's license or an identity card; (b) a transaction scan indicated that the license or card was valid; and (c) the restricted product as sold, given away or otherwise distributed to the cardholder in reasonable reliance upon the identification presented and the completed transaction scan. A seller or seller's employee must still exercise reasonable diligence: the use of a transaction scan device does not excuse a seller or seller's employee from exercising such reasonable diligence to determine whether the purchaser is 21 years of age or older and whether the description and picture appearing on the driver's license or identity card presented by a cardholder is that of the cardholder.
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.”
The purchase of restricted products or misrepresentation of age to purchase restricted products by minors is prohibited. Violators will be fined up to $50 for the first offense, and up to $100 for subsequent offenses.
Not applicable under Federal law
Two possible signs are required depending upon which product(s) your store sells.
For tobacco selling retailers, a sign must be posted at each point of sale which states (1) that the sale, giving or delivering of tobacco products, including cigarettes, to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age is prohibited by section 53-344 of the general statues, as amended by this act, (2) the misrepresentation of age through the use of false identification by a person under twenty-one (21) years of age to purchase cigarette or tobacco products is prohibited by said section and (3) the penalties and fines for violating the provisions of this section and section 12-295a of the general statues, as amended by this act. Failure to post a sign is punishable by a fine of not more than $100.
For e-cigarette/vapor product retailers, a sign must be posted at each point of sale which states (1) the sale, giving or delivering of electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age is prohibited by section 53-344b of the general statutes, as amended by this act, (2) the misrepresentation of age through the use of false identification by a person under twenty-one (21) years of age to purchase an electronic nicotine delivery system or a vapor product is prohibited, and (3) the penalties and fines for violating the provisions of this section and section 53-344b of the general statutes, as amended by this act. Failure to post a sign is punishable by a fine of not more than $100.
Obtaining the state required signs:
The NEW 21 year minimum-age sign: The Connecticut government is developing new education and awareness materials that is planned for release in September before the change in law on Oct. 1, 2019. A courtesy state notice sign will be included in the direct mail package to retailers. The state government has posted the new 21 year minimum-age sign here.
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 of Connecticut to conduct random, unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets to determine compliance rates. The Commissioner of Revenue Services coordinates the inspections and prepares reports on enforcement efforts undertaken pursuant to the law, including the number of unannounced inspections conducted, a summary of enforcement actions taken and an assessment of the progress made in the previous fiscal year in reducing the availability of tobacco products to minors.
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.
License for minors is vertical. "UNDER 21 UNTIL 00-00-0000" is in red bar to right of primary photo. If under 18, "UNDER 18 UNTIL 00-00-000" is in yellow bar to left of red bar. Primary photo is on left side with a small duplicate ghosted photo image on bottom right. Learner's Permit has the state name in yellow. Identification Card has the state name in red in a green bar. For additional 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.