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Minimum Age
State

21 years old is the state law minimum age. It is illegal to sell, give, furnish, send, or cause to be sent a tobacco product, electronic cigarette or nicotine product to anyone under 21 years old.

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

Cigars, cigarette tobacco, pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes, or tobacco in any form, electronic cigarettes and tobacco paraphernalia (including any equipment, product or material of any kind which is used or designed for use to package, repackage, contain, store, conceal, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce tobacco in ANY form into the human body).

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

None

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

Fines may apply to both retail permit holders and individuals, such as employees.

Fines to retailers:  A first offense is a fine of up to $500. A second offense within 12 months is a penalty up to $750 fine. A third offense or subsequent violation within two years is a suspension of the retail tobacco business permit for 30 days, or a fine up to $1,000.

The Health Department may revoke a permit if a 4th violation occurs within two years of the three previous violations.  In addition to a monetary penalty, the permit may be suspended if the violation is due to a sale of tobacco, electronic cigarette or nicotine products to a person under 21 years old; and if applicable recommend to a municipality or county that a retail tobacco specialty business license be suspended or revoked.

For employees:   An individual who knowingly, intentionally, recklessly, or with criminal negligence provides a tobacco product, an electronic cigarette product or a nicotine product to an individual who is under 21 years old, is guilty of:

- a class C misdemeanor on the first offense;

- a class B misdemeanor on the second offense; and

- a class A misdemeanor on any subsequent offense.

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

Recognition of tobacco retailer training program: Penalties are subject to a reduction for violations committed by a retail employee if the Department determines that the retailer implemented a documented employee training program and employees completed that training program within 30 days of beginning to sell tobacco, electronic cigarette or nicotine products. For the 1st offense at a retail location, if the hearing officer determines that the tobacco retailer licensee has NOT implemented a documented training program with a written curriculum for employees at that location regarding compliance, the hearing officer may suspend all or a portion of the penalty IF: 1) the retailer agrees to initiate a training program for employees, and 2) the training program begins within 30 days after the hearing officer makes a determination.

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 a person who is 18 years or older, but younger than 21 to purchase, attempt to purchase, accept or possess a tobacco, an electronic cigarette or a nicotine product. Violators are guilty of an infraction and subject to a minimum fine or penalty of $60 and participation in a court-approved tobacco education or cessation program. 

For individuals under 18 years old, they are subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

It is a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly acquire, use, display, or transfer a false or altered identification card to procure Restricted Products.

Federal

Not applicable under Federal law

Sign Requirement

State

There is no state-mandated sign requirement.

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 vertical. Red 'UNDER 21 UNTIL 00/00/0000" and if applicable, blue "UNDER 19 UNTIL 00/00/000" above duplicate ghosted image. For more information and/or an image, visit 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