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Minimum Age
State

21 years old is the state law minimum-age. It is illegal for any person knowingly to sell or barter, directly or indirectly, any cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products or vapor products to any individuals under the age of 21 years. 

Federal

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
State

All cigarette or tobacco related objects, including cigar wraps, papers, wrappers, or other products, devices or substances used to make cigarettes or tobacco in any form, alternative nicotine products (product containing nicotine that is intended for human consumption, whether chewed, absorbed, dissolved, or ingested by any other means) and vapor products (e-cigarettes, and any noncombustible product containing nicotine that employs a heating element, power source, electronic circuit, or other electronic, chemical, or mechanical means, that can be used to produce vapor from nicotine in a solution or other form).

Federal

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.
  • Cigars
  • Hookah & Pipe tobacco
  • Dissolvable tobacco products
  • 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 www.fda.gov.

Acceptable Forms of Identification
State

Any document issued by a governmental agency containing a description of the individual and/or their photograph, and a date of birth. Acceptable ID includes but is not limited to passports, military identification cards, driver's licenses or identification cards. A birth certificate is not an acceptable ID.

Federal

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
State

Persons charged with selling Restricted Products to individuals under 21 years of age shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by confinement in the county jail for up to 12 months, or both. Whenever a reasonable or prudent person could reasonably be in doubt as to whether or not the purchaser is under 21 years of age, the person selling or furnishing the Restricted Product has a duty to ask for, receive and review proper identification. The failure to do so when the purchaser is under 21 years of age may be considered by the Court when determining whether the person selling or otherwise furnishing Restricted Products did so knowingly. Violators will be charged with a misdemeanor.

Federal

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.

Affirmative Defense
State

The law prohibiting the sale or distribution of Restricted Products to minors shall not apply when the retailer is furnished with proper identification showing that the purchaser is 21 years of age or older.

Federal

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
State

It is illegal for an individual under the age of 21 years to purchase, attempt to purchase or possess for use, any Restricted Products, or to misrepresent his or her identity or age, or use false identification for the purpose of purchasing or procuring Restricted Products. Violators may be required to perform 20 hours of community service, attend a lecture on the health hazards of smoking and vaping or tobacco and vapor product use, or both.

When an individual under the age of 21 years fails to comply with such imposed community service, or for a third or subsequent violation within the same calendar year as the first violation, by requiring the Department of Driver Licenses to withhold issuance of or to suspend the driver's license or driving privilege of such individual for a period of 45 consecutive days.

Federal

Not applicable under Federal law

Sign Requirement

State

Retailers are required to conspicuously post a sign within the store, at least 1/2 inch in height, which states:

SALE OF CIGARETTES, TOBACCO, TOBACCO PRODUCTS, TOBACCO-RELATED OBJECTS, ALTERNATIVE NICOTINE PRODUCTS OR VAPOR PRODUCTS TO INDIVIDUALS UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE IS PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Any retailer who fails to comply with this requirement will be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by confinement in the county jail for up to 12 months, or both.

ONLINE: To download, See https://dor.georgia.gov/alcohol-tobacco-warningssigns

Federal

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
State

As a condition of receiving federal substance abuse block grant funds, federal law requires Georgia to conduct random, unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets to determine compliance rates. Persons under 21 years of age may be enlisted to test compliance, provided that such persons are under the direct supervision of law enforcement officials and have written parental consent. The State Revenue Commissioner, acting through local law enforcement officials, shall coordinate the inspections.

Federal

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 License Visual Characteristics
State

Minor license is vertical for new licenses with photo on left and red "UNDER 21" to right of the photo. Birthdate is in black for permanent licenses and in red for interim licenses. Prior licenses are valid until expiration date and have a red header and a red box around the photo with "UNDER 21" vertically down the left side. "Georgia DRIVER LICENSE" and the birth date are in red. For additional information and/ or an image, visit: Georgia Department of Driver Services and click on "DDS Brochure New License Design".

Federal

Not applicable under Federal law

Other
State

None

Federal

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

Last updated 11/2020