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Minimum Age
State

21 years old is the state law minimum-age.  It is illegal to sell or furnish restricted tobacco and tobacco related products (including lobeli and e-cigarettes) to persons under the age of 21. Minnesota law prohibits the sale of restricted tobacco and tobacco related products including lobelia in open displays which are accessible to the public without the intervention of a store employee. Distribution of tobacco and tobacco related products including lobelia by an Indian to an Indian minor is permitted if the product is furnished as a part of a traditional Indian spiritual or cultural ceremony.

Minimum-age to ask for identification:  Age verification is required for customers who are under 30 years of age.

Age verification. At each location where tobacco, tobacco-related devices, electronic delivery devices, or nicotine or lobelia delivery products are sold, the licensee shall verify, by means of government-issued photographic identification containing the bearer's date of birth, that the purchaser or person attempting to make the purchase is at least 21 years of age. Verification is not required if the purchaser or person attempting to make the purchase is 30 years of age or older. It shall not constitute a defense to a violation of this subdivision that the person appeared to be 30 years of age or older.

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

Cigarettes - including e-cigarettes, electronic delivery devices - and any products containing, made, or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption, whether chewed, smoked, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or ingested by any other means, or any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product, including, but not limited to, cigars; little cigars; cheroots; stogies; periques; granulated, plug cut, crimp cut, ready rubbed, and other smoking tobacco; lobelia, snuff; snuff flour; cavendish; plug and twist tobacco; fine-cut and other chewing tobacco; shorts; refuse scraps, clippings, cuttings and sweepings of tobacco, and other kinds and forms of tobacco, including tobacco-related devices, such as cigarette papers or pipes for smoking or other devices intentionally designed or intended to be used in a manner which enables the chewing, sniffing, smoking, or inhalation of vapors aerosol or vapor of tobacco or tobacco products. Tobacco-related devices include components of tobacco-related devices which may be marketed or sold separately.

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

A valid state or Canadian provincial driver's license or identification card which contains the photograph and date of birth of the licensed person; a valid United States Department of Defense military identification card; a United States passport, or in the case of a foreign national, a valid passport of that person's country.

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

Both the retailer and the employee may be fined.

Fines for Retailers: If a retailer or employee sells a Restricted Product to a person under 21 years old, after being provided notice of the alleged violation and an opportunity for a hearing, the retailer may be charged with a $300 penalty for the first violation, $600 for the second violation within 36 months, and $1,000 and a license suspension for not less than seven days for the third violation within 36 months. The license may also be revoked.

Fines for employees and other individuals:  An employee who sells, gives or furnishes a Restricted Product to a person under 21 years old, after being provided noticed of the alleged violation and an opportunity for a hearing, will be charged with an administrative penalty of $50. Additional penalties may be levied by ordinance or by a town board or governing body of a home rule charter or statutory city.

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

It is an affirmative defense to the charge of selling tobacco, tobacco-related devices, electronic delivery devices, or nicotine or lobelia delivery products to a person under the age of 21 years that the licensee or individual making the sale relied in good faith on an Acceptable form of Identification.

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

A person under 21 years old who purchases, attempts to purchase tobacco, tobacco-related devices or electronic delivery devices and who uses a driver’s license, permit, Minnesota identification card, or any type of false identification to misrepresent the person’s age shall only be subject to an alternative civil penalty, such as, but not limited to, tobacco free tobacco-free education; tobacco-cessation programs, ; notice to schools, and parents, or guardians; community service, ; and other court diversion programs. Alternative civil penalties developed under this subdivision shall not include fines or monetary penalties.

Federal

Not applicable under Federal law

Sign Requirement

State

At each location where tobacco, tobacco-related devices, electronic delivery devices, or nicotine or lobelia delivery products are sold, the licensee shall display a sign in plain view to provide public notice that selling any of these products to any person under the age of 21 is illegal and subject to penalties. The notice shall be placed in a conspicuous location in the licensed establishment and shall be readily visible to any person who is purchasing or attempting to purchase these products. The sign shall provide notice that all persons responsible for selling these products must verify, by means of photographic identification containing the bearer's date of birth, the age of any person under 30 years of age.

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 the state to conduct random, unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets to determine compliance rates. 

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 horizontal. Photo has a red border and "UNDER 21" is printed in yellow at the top of the photo. If under 18, the license states "PROVISIONAL" and the date that the minor will turn 18 is in red text to the right of the DOB. For additional information, go here

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 06/2020