21 years old is the minimum-age law (both a federal law and a state law).
It is illegal for any person to sell, deliver, barter, furnish, or give, directly or indirectly, to any individual under 21 years of age any tobacco product, nicotine product, nicotine dispensing devices.
Minimum-Age to Ask for ID: Retailers must require proof-of-age for customers under 30 years of age before selling the product.
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 products, including loose tobacco leaves and any products made from tobacco leaves, in whole or in part, and cigarette wrappers, nicotine products (e.g., e-cigarettes or any product that employs an electronic, chemical or mechanical means to produce vapor from a nicotine product*), and nicotine dispensing devices** (e.g., any product that contains nicotine, including liquid nicotine, that is intended for human consumption, whether inhaled, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, or ingested by any means). In addition, Retailers may not sell certain smoking pipes or smoking devices under certain circumstances.
The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco includes electronic cigarettes containing nicotine from tobacco leaves as “tobacco products” for enforcement purposes.
* “Nicotine product” means any product that contains nicotine, including liquid nicotine, which is intended for human consumption, whether inhaled, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, or ingested by any means. The term also includes any nicotine dispensing device.
** “Nicotine dispensing device” means any product that employs an electronic, chemical, or mechanical means to produce vapor or aerosol from a nicotine product, including, but not limited to, an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or other similar device or product, any replacement cartridge for such device, and any other container of nicotine in a solution or other form intended to be used with or within an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or other similar device or 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.
Driver's license; identification card issued by the State of Florida or another state of the United States; passport; or a United States armed services identification card.
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.
Retailers must exercise diligence in the management and supervision of their premises and in the supervision and training of their employees. Proof that employees committed at least three violations during a 180-day period shall be evidence of a lack of due diligence.
Retailers and their employees who sell, deliver, barter, furnish, or give, directly or indirectly, to any person who is under 21 years of age, any Restricted Product are guilty of second degree misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment for up to 60 days. All subsequent violations within a 1-year period are first degree misdemeanors, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or a 1-year imprisonment. Retail licenses may be suspended or revoked. The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (Division) may assess administrative penalties against the retailer of up to $1,000 for each violation.
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.
The Division may consider qualification as a state-sanctioned ‘responsible retail tobacco products dealer’ as evidence that the dealer properly exercised the required diligence. To qualify as a responsible retail tobacco products dealer, the retailer must establish and implement procedures that ensure that his employees comply with the law. The dealer must provide a training program for his employees which addresses the use and sale of tobacco products and which includes: (a) laws covering the sale of Restricted Products; (b) methods of recognizing and handling customers under 21 years of age; (c) procedures for proper examination of proper ID; and (d) the use of the age audit identification function on electronic point-of-sale equipment, where available.
The Division may mitigate penalties imposed against a dealer because of an employee's illegal sale of Restricted Products to persons under 21 years of age if: (a) the dealer is qualified as a responsible retail tobacco products dealer; (b) the dealer provided all required training to the employee before the illegal sale occurred; and (c) the dealer had no knowledge of the employee's violation at the time of the violation and did not direct, approve, or participate in the violation.
It is a complete defense for the person charged with a violation if: (1) the buyer falsely evidenced that he was 21 years of age or older; (2) the appearance of the buyer was such that a reasonable person would believe the buyer or recipient to be 21 years of age or older; (3) the person carefully checked the identification card presented by the buyer; and (4) the person acted in good faith and in reliance upon the representation of the buyer.
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.”
Knowingly possessing, misrepresenting age or military service, and purchasing or attempting to purchase Restricted Tobacco products, including cigarette wrappers, by a person under 21 years of age is illegal. Violators will be subject to a $25 fine or 16 hours of community service for a first offense and must attend a school approved anti-tobacco program, if available locally; a fine of $25 for a second offense within 12 weeks of the first violation; withholding, suspending or revoking violator’s driver’s license or driving privilege for the third and all subsequent offenses within 12 weeks of the first violation.
Not applicable under Federal law
Until Sept 30, 2021, retailers must post the required 18 yr sign – ONLINE: Download a pdf of required sign.
New 21 year Sign -- Effective October 1, 2021, retailers must post a clear and conspicuous sign (available from the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco) which states:
THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS, NICOTINE PRODUCTS, OR NICOTINE DISPENSING DEVICES TO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 21 IS AGAINST FLORIDA LAW. PROOF OF AGE IS REQUIRED FOR PURCHASE.
Retailers will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment up to 60 days for failure to post the required signage.
The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (Division) may assess administrative penalties against the retailer of up to $1,000 for a violation of the sign requirement.
As of August 2021, the 21 year sign has not been posted online. Check back well before the Oct 1, 2021 deadline.
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. Minors may be used in conjunction with law enforcement agencies to test compliance. The Division coordinates the inspections and is required to report annually to the Legislature and the Governor on: (1) the number and results of compliance visits; (2) the number of violations for failure of a retailer to hold a valid license; (3) the number of violations for selling Restricted Products to minors, and the results of administrative hearings on the above and related issues; and (4) the number of minors cited for possession of Restricted Products, and sanctions imposed thereof.
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 yellow type on a red background to the left of primary photo. State header for Minor License is in yellow type within a green bar. State header for Minor Identification Card is in yellow type within a red bar. For additional information and/or an image, visit here.
Not applicable under Federal law
Calendar Requirement: Retailers must provide a calendar at the point of sale, clearly visible to the retailer’s employee, which states:
“IF YOU WERE NOT BORN BEFORE THIS DATE (insert date and applicable year), YOU CANNOT BUY TOBACCO PRODUCTS, NICOTINE PRODUCTS, OR NICOTINE DISPENSING DEVICES."
In lieu of a calendar, retailers may use approved card readers, scanners or other electronic or automated systems that can verify whether a person is of legal age to purchase tobacco products. The Division may suspend or revoke a retailer’s license and may assess administrative penalties of up to $1,000 against a retailer for each violation of this requirement.
See additional information and requirements on advertising, labeling and promotion requirements -- available here.