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Minimum Age

21 years old is the state law minimum-age.  It is illegal to sell, give or furnish or cause or allow or procure to be sold, given or furnished tobacco products, e-cigarettes or e-liquid to anyone under 21 years of age, even if the person were to provide a note from an adult requesting such sale, gift, or delivery.

Age of Employee:  This prohibition does not apply to persons employed by a retailer from performing the necessary handling of tobacco products, e-cigarettes, or e-liquid during duration of their employment.


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

Any product containing or derived from tobacco including, but not limited to, cigarettes, smoking tobacco, cigars, e-cigarettes, e-liquid, chewing tobacco, snuff, pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco and smokeless cigarettes, as well as rolling papers.


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

A New Hampshire or other state or Canadian province’s valid driver’s license which bears the birth date, name, address and picture of the individual; an armed services identification card; or a valid passport from a country with whom the United States maintains diplomatic relations. Photographic identification must be consistent with the appearance of the person and shall be correct and free of alteration, erasure, blemish, or other impairment.


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

Violation is a civil infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 for the first offense and $500 for the second offense.

For the third offense, the enforcement authority shall issue a letter of warning detailing necessary corrective actions and a fine ranging from $500 to $1500 and the license to sell tobacco products where the offense occurred shall be suspended for a period of 10-30 consecutive days. For the fourth offense, the commission shall issue either a fine from $750 to $3,000, and a suspension of a minimum of 10-40 consecutive days, or a suspension. For any violation beyond the fourth, the license shall be revoked at the location where the infraction occurred for a period of one year from the date of revocation. In addition to the civil penalty, a person who violates this section shall be guilty of a violation for the first offense and a misdemeanor for each subsequent offense.

Violations for selling, giving or furnishing rolling papers to a minor:  Violation is a civil infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $750 for the third and 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

It is a defense to prosecution if the purchaser falsely represented that he or she was at least 21 years of age, a reasonable person would believe that the purchaser was at least 21 years of age and the sale was made in good faith relying on documentation and the appearance of the purchaser. Any person making the sale of tobacco products, which sale is to be made to any person who does not appear to be at least 21 years of age, shall require the purchaser to furnish identification.

Any person selling a Restricted Product who uses due diligence in checking identification to prevent unauthorized sales and purchases of Restricted Products shall not be held responsible for the acceptance of fraudulent identification. Where due diligence is exercised on the part of the seller, the under-aged purchaser shall be liable for any penalty or fine resulting from the sale.


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

Purchase, attempted purchase, possession or use of Restricted Products by persons under 21 years of age is illegal, unless the possession is necessary to employment. Exception: Individuals who have been issued a registry identification card may purchase, possess and use e-liquids containing cannabis and applicable devices as allowed under law. Misrepresenting age for the purpose of obtaining tobacco products is illegal. Violators are subject to a fine of $100 or 20 hours of community service for each offense and may also be required to participate in an educational program.


Not applicable under Federal law

Sign Requirement


A sign must be posted at any location where Restricted Products are sold or distributed which states:


For additional information, go to:


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 state to conduct random, unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets to determine compliance rates. The State Liquor Commission coordinates the inspections.


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 photo under state header. "UNDER 18 UNTIL 00-00- 0000" is in white text in a pink bar. "UNDER 21 UNTIL 00-00-0000" is in white text in a red bar below the pink bar in the lower left of the license. For more information and/or image, go here.


Not applicable under Federal law




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

Last updated 04/2022