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Minimum Age

The FEDERAL 21-year minimum age law for all tobacco and vaping products must be followed.  There are no exceptions to the federal law. Even if the state law minimum-age may be different, the federal law 21-year minimum age must be followed. 


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

Age Restricted products include: Cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco snuff, cigarette papers, rolling papers or any tobacco in any of its forms -- including electronic nicotine delivery systems or any similar products that rely on vaporization or aerosolization, which includes any product that can deliver nicotine to users through the inhalation of vapor (such as e-cigarettes, e-cigars, electronic pipes) and the component parts of such products (including liquids and gels, irrespective of whether such liquids and gels contain nicotine.)


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

Liquor purchase identification card, motor vehicle license, a valid passport issued by the United States government or by the government of a foreign country, or a valid United States issued military 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.

Fine/Penalty Schedule for Selling to Minors

Retailers found guilty of selling tobacco products to minors will be fined at least $100 for the first offense, at least $200 for the second offense, and at least $300 for third and subsequent offenses. Whoever sells cigarette rolling papers to any person under the age of 21 shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25 for the first offense, not less than $50 for the second offense and not less than $100 for a third or subsequent offenses.


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



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

Minors are not prohibited from possessing tobacco.


Not applicable under Federal law

Sign Requirement


A sign regarding the sale of tobacco must be posted conspicuously at each point of sale, stating:

M.G.L.A. 270 Section 6.

(a) As used in this section and sections 6A and 7, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

"Manufactuer", a person that manufacturers or produces a tobacco product.

"Person", an individual, firm, fiduciary, partnership, corporation, trust or association, however formed, or a club, trustee, agency or receiver.

"Retail establishment", a physical place of business or a section of a physical place of business wherein a tobacco product is offered for sale to consumers.

"Retailer", a person that operates a retail establishment.

"Tobacco product", a product containing, made or derived from tobacco or nicotine that is intended for human consumption, whether smoked, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or ingested by any other means includng, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, snuff, electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic pipes, electronic nicotine delivery systems or any other similar products that rely on vaporization or aerosolization; provided, however that "tobacco product" shall also include any component, part or accessory of a tobacco product; and provided further, that "tobacco product" shall not include a product that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the sale of or use as a tobacco cessation product and is marketed and sold exclusively for the approved purpose.

(b) No person shall sell or provide a tobacco product to a person who is under 21 years of age.

(c) No manufacturer or retailer shall distribute or cause to be distributed a free sample of a tobacco product in a retail or other commercial establishment; provided, however, that this subsection shall not apply to retail tobacco stores and smoking bars as defined in section 22.

(d) A person who violates this section shall be punished by a fine of $100 for the first offense, $200 for a second offense and $300 for a third or subsequent offense.

(e) the department of public health may promulgate regulations to implement this section

M.G.L.A. 270 Section 6A

A person who sells tobacco rolling papers to a person under the age of 21 shall be punished by a fine of $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense and $100 for a third or subsequent offense.

To obtain a required state sign:  Contact the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, Tobacco Control Program at 617-624-5900, or contact your local board of health.

ONLINE:   See state sign information 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.  

We Card - FDA Required Sign


Compliance Checks

As a condition of receiving federal substance abuse block grant funds, federal law requires the Commonwealth to conduct random, unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets to determine compliance rates. Inspections are conducted by the Department of Public Health, Tobacco Control Program within the Attorney General’s Office.


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

Minor license is vertical with red "UNDER 21 DRIVER LICENSE" under the state header. A red "UNDER 18 UNTIL 00-00-0000" and "UNDER 21 UNTIL 00-00- 0000" appears above photo. Valid driving times are also noted in red on minor licenses. For additional information and/or an image, visit: Massachusetts Driver Licensing


Not applicable under Federal law




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

Last updated 04/2022