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Minimum Age

21 is the state law minimum age.  Law effective on or about June 7, 2024.  A person, firm, corporation, or business entity may not sell, give, or furnish, or cause to be sold, given, or furnished, any tobacco product, in any form, to anyone younger than 21 years of age.  See Restricted Products section. 


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

Cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chewing tobacco, pipes, cigarette papers or tobacco products in any form; any product containing, made, or derived from tobacco, or nicotine, that is intended for human consumption, whether absorbed, inhaled or ingested by any other means, including but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, little cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, snus, chewing tobacco, other common tobacco-containing products, electronic smoking device that can be used to deliver any heated, aerosolized or vaporized substance to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, vape pen or e-hookah, including any accessory, whether or not any of these contain tobacco or nicotine, including but not limited to, filters rolling papers, blunt or hemp wraps and pipes.  Additionally, no person or business shall possess, import, sell, offer for sale or distribute any tobacco product commonly referred to as "bidis" or "beedies".


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

Driver’s license or state identification card or any valid and unexpired federally issued identification card such as a passport or military identification card.


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

Any individual, firm or corporation found in violation is guilty of a misdemeanor subject to a fine of $250 for the first offense, $500-$750 for the second offense within two years, $750-$1,000 for the third offense within two years, $2,000 - $5,000 for any subsequent offenses within five years of the first offense.

Non-management employees of a retail outlet where tobacco products are sold are not subject to the monetary penalties, but are subject to non-criminal, non-monentary penalties, including, but not limited to, education classes, diversion programs, and community service.

Any employer who discovers their employee has sold or furnished tobacco products to any person younger than 21 years of age may dismiss the employee for cause, if the employer has provided the employee with prior written notice in the workplace that such act or acts may result in their termination from employment.

Any person who sells or distributes "bidis" or "beedies" to anyone is guilty of a misdemeanor, and subject to a fine of up to $500 for a first offense. For a second or subsequent offense violators will be subject to a fine of $1,000- $5,000 for each offense and/or confined in a county or regional jail for up to six months.


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

A complete defense is available if the seller carefully checked the identification card presented by the presenter; and the seller acted in good faith and in reasonable reliance upon the representation and appearance of the buyer or recipient in the belief that the buyer or recipient was 21 or older.


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

Minor possession violations were removed from the law, effective June 2024.


Not applicable under Federal law

Sign Requirement


There is no state mandated sign requirement.


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. State law authorizes the Bureau for Behavioral Health, the superintendent of the West Virginia state police, county sheriffs and city police chiefs to periodically conduct unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets to ensure compliance. Minors may be enlisted to participate in these inspections only if the inspections are conducted under the direct supervision of these authorities or their agents and written parental consent has been obtained.


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 licenses are vertical. Under 21 licenses have a bright blue background, GRADUATED in red text below the heading and TURNS 21 ON 00-00-0000 in white text in a red bar to the right of the photo. Under 18 licenses have a dark red background, with TURNS 18 ON 00-00-0000 and INTERMEDIATE in red below the heading. 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.

Last updated 04/2024