It is illegal to sell, give, furnish, send, or cause to be sent tobacco products, tobacco substitutes (including e-cigarettes or vapor products) or tobacco paraphernalia to anyone under the age of 21. It is illegal to sell, give, furnish, send, or cause to be sent bidis to anyone, notwithstanding 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.
All tobacco products, tobacco substitutes (e-cigarettes and vapor products) or tobacco paraphernalia (any device used to deliver tobacco products or tobacco substitutes into the body). Includes cigarettes, cigars, cheroots, stogies, periques, granulated, plug cut, crimp cut, ready rubbed, and other smoking tobacco, snuff, snuff flour, Cavendish, plug and twist tobacco, fine-cut and other chewing tobaccos, shorts, refuse scraps, clippings, cuttings and sweepings of tobacco, and any other kinds and forms of tobacco suitable for chewing or smoking in a pipe or otherwise, as well as any form of wrapper which holds tobacco, such as blunt wrappers, or for delivery into the body by inhaling heated vapor or other means.
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.
Acceptable forms of identification include photographic motor vehicle operator's licenses, passports, United States Military identification cards or photographic non-driver motor vehicle identification cards issued by the Vermont department of motor vehicles.
Upon demand, a person shall exhibit proof of age to a licensee, a licensee's employee or a law enforcement officer. Failure to provide proof entitles the licensee to refuse the sale.
Additional Information and We Card Best Practices: The Vermont Department of Liquor Control (VDLC) has advised We Card that non-driver motor vehicle identification cards from other states are acceptable. VDLC also notes that only VALID identification should be accepted. It is a We Card Best Practice that a retailer may refuse a sale for any reason, particularly if there is reason to believe that an adult is purchasing for an underage person.
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.
Violators are subject to a $100 fine for the first offense and a $500 for subsequent offenses. The holder of a tobacco license that does not also hold a liquor license for the same premises shall: (1) complete the department's enforcement seminar at least once every two years, pursuant to Vermont tobacco education administrative regulations; and (2) ensure that every employee that sells Restricted Products completes a state approved training program before selling or providing the products, and at least once every 24 months thereafter. A licensee may comply by conducting its own training program on its premises using information and materials furnished by the VDLC. Failure to comply may result in a one or more day suspension.
A tobacco licensee convicted of selling bidis shall be fined not more than $500. A person who purchases bidis shall be fined not more than $250.
Additional Information: The VDLC has stated that it issues a warning for a first offense, and may impose a $100 penalty against a tobacco licensee for a violation, up to $1,000 for subsequent violations. The VDLC may also require the licensee to attend a training class.
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.
Selling or furnishing Restricted Products to a person with proper proof of age is a 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.”
It is illegal for a person under 21 to purchase Restricted Products, unless that person possesses the tobacco products in the course of employment. A person violating this rule shall have the Restricted Product confiscated, and shall be subject to a fine of $25; failure to pay the fine could lead to suspension of the violator's driver's license. A person under 21 years of age who misrepresents his age by presenting false identification shall be fined up to $50 and/or subject to up to 10 hours of community service.
Not applicable under Federal law
All persons licensed to sell tobacco products must display in a conspicuous place on the premises a warning sign stating that the sale of tobacco products, tobacco substitutes and tobacco paraphernalia to persons under 21 years of age is prohibited. The sign may include information about the health effects of tobacco and tobacco cessation programs.
Failure to post the state law, as described above, is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $100.
Online: See "Mandatory" warning signs at the VT Liquor Control's publications website.
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. Minors may be used in these inspections under the direct supervision of law enforcement officials with prior written consent of a parent or guardian. The Vermont Department of Liquor Control, who coordinates the inspections, has indicated that only 17 year old minors are used for this function.
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. Operator license has the head bar in a plum color, and UNDER 21 UNTIL 00-00-0000 in red and UNDER 18 UNTIL 00-00-0000 below the Under 21 date. Junior Operator license has a yellow/orange head bar and the Learner's Permit has a pink head bar. For more information and/or an image, go here.
Not applicable under Federal law
See additional information and requirements on advertising, labeling and promotion requirements -- available here.