Customers must be 21 years or older to purchase tobacco products, e-cigarettes and e-vapor products (See Restricted Products section). It is illegal to sell, give or cause to be sold or give a cigarette, e-cigarette or tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, or to sell or give tobacco products to a person who intends to deliver it to someone who is under 21.
Carding Requirement: Retailers must ask for ID from any person that appears to be under 30 years old, and verify the person is 21 years of age or older by examing a valid proof of ID.
Adult-for-Underage Person Purchase is Illegal. It is illegal for a retail employee to sell, give or causes to be sold or give a cigarette, e-cigarette or tobacco product to another person who intends to deliver it to someone who is younger than 21 years of age.
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.
Cigarettes or tobacco products including cigars, pipe or cigarette tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, or any article or product that is made of tobacco or a tobacco substitute, and e-Cigarettes and vaping products.
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.
Identification that contains a physical description and photograph consistent with the person's appearance, purports to establish that the person is 21 or older, and was issued by a governmental agency, including a Texas or other state’s driver's license, a passport, or a state or federally–issued identification card. A U.S. Armed Forces identification card or a state military identification card is an acceptable ID.
A person may not sell, give, or cause to be sold or given a Restricted Product to someone who appears to be younger than 30 unless that person presents an Acceptable Form of Identification.
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.
Employees who sell Restricted Products to persons under 21 years of age are guilty of a Class C misdemeanor, subject to a fine of up to $500. The retailer will be charged if an employee commits an offense and the retailer failed to prevent the offense through adequate supervision and training. Retailers found in violation at least twice within 12 months, may be fined up to $1,000 and have their permit suspended. Four or more violations may result in permit revocation.
Failure to Notify Employees AND Post Required Signage can be a Class C misdemeanor: as a condition of employment, retailers must notify each employee engaged in the sale of restricted Products, within 72 hours of first selling such products, that state law prohibits the sale or distribution of cigarettes e-cigarettes or tobacco products to anyone under 21, that a violation is a Class C misdemeanor, that employees are required to ensure that tobacco outlets post a warning sign that is always properly displayed and that a violation is a Class C misdemeanor. Employees are required to sign a notice or other store or company document stating that they have been trained to sell e-cigarettes, cigarettes and tobacco products. The employee must signify that he has received the notice by signing a form stating that the law has been fully explained, that the individual understands the law, and that the individual, as a condition of employment, agrees to comply with the law. Each form signed by an individual shall indicate the date of the signature and the current address and social security number of the individual. The retailer shall retain the signed form until 60 days after the employee leaves the job. A retailer required by this section to notify employees commits an offense if the retailer fails, on demand of a peace officer or an agent of the Comptroller, to provide the signed form within 7 days of the demand. An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. It is a defense to prosecution to show proof that the employee did complete, sign, and date the required forms.
Texas Retail Employee Notification Form available here.
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.
It is a defense if the retail employee demanded, examined and reasonably relied upon proof of age before selling or distributing Restricted Products. It is also a defense if the employee uses an electronic age verification device and the device identifies an identification as valid and the defendant relied on those results in good faith; or in the case of an owner defendant, the offense occurs in connection with a sale by an employee to whom the owner had previously provided a device in working condition and to whom the owner provided adequate training in the use of the device.
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.”
It is illegal for a person younger than 21 years of age to possess, purchase, consume or receive Restricted Products, except in the presence of an employer in the performance of the employee’s duties. It is illegal to display false, fraudulent or not actual identification to obtain, purchase or receive Restricted Products. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $100, and must complete a Tobacco Awareness Program within 90 days of the offense.
Not applicable under Federal law
NEW state sign requirement for the Sept. 1, 2019 deadline for the 21 year minimum age law. The Comptroller's office plans to mail out its publications before the deadline.
Retailers must post and maintain signs at the point of sale and on vending machines which include:
PURCHASING OR ATTEMPTING TO PURCHASE CIGARETTES, E-CIGARETTES OR TOBACCO PRODUCTS BY A PERSON UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE IS PROHIBITED BY LAW. SALE OR PROVISION OF CIGARETTES, E-CIGARETTES OR TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO A PERSON UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE IS PROHIBITED BY LAW. UPON CONVICTION, A CLASS C MISDEMEANOR, INCLUDING A FINE OF UP TO $500, MAY BE IMPOSED. VIOLATIONS MAY BE REPORTED TO THE TEXAS COMPTROLLER’S OFFICE BY CALLING 1-800-345-8647. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD NOT SMOKE. SMOKERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE BABIES WHO ARE BORN PREMATURE OR WHO HAVE LOW BIRTH WEIGHT. THE PROHIBITIONS ON THE PURCHASE OR ATTEMPT TO PURCHASE DESCRIBED ABOVE DO NOT APPLY TO A PERSON WHO IS IN THE UNITED STATES MILITARY FORCES OR STATE MILITARY FORCES. THE PROHIBITIONS ON THE PURCHASE OR ATTEMPT TO PURCHASE DESCRIBED ABOVE DO NOT APPLY TO A PERSON WHO WAS BORN ON OR BEFORE AUGUST 31, 2001.
The Comptroller shall supply the signs free. Failure to post a sign is a Class C misdemeanor, subject to a fine of up to $500. To request additional warning signs, call the Comptroller’s office toll-free at (800) 862-2260 and request publication number 96-536. The Comptroller's office indicates that its online publications will be updated before the Sept. 1, 2019 deadline.
See Tobacco and E-Cigarette Sales Warning Signs and Vending Machine Warning Signs here. The new 21 year signs are available online.
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 rates. A minor may act as a “decoy” to assist with compliance checks, provided that prior written parental consent is obtained, the minor is under 21, the minor appears to a reasonably prudent seller to be of an age that would require a request for identification, the minor carries either his own identification showing the minor's correct date of birth or no identification, the minor presents the identification upon request, and the minor answers truthfully any questions concerning his age. The Texas Comptroller Office coordinates the inspections and prepares annual reports of the results.
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 is vertical with red "UNDER 21 DRIVER LICENSE" and red "UNDER 21 UNTIL 00-00-0000" above person's name. For additional information about minor licenses, visit here.
Not applicable under Federal law
See additional information and requirements on advertising, labeling and promotion requirements -- available here.