What is Tobacco 21?
Tobacco 21 is an initiative to increase the tobacco age of sale from 18 to 21. Raising the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 reduces tobacco initiation and addiction rates among youth.1
What does the new Tobacco 21 federal law mean for tobacco retailers?
As of December 20, 2019, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was amended to raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products. This new change prohibits retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. Such tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, and electronic vaping products.2
How can retailers that sell tobacco products comply with the new law?
Although current Nevada law states the minimum sale age for tobacco products is 18, retailers should comply with the federal law. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests that retailers:
- Only sell tobacco products to customers age 21 or older
- Check photo ID of anyone under age 30 who attempts to purchase any tobacco product
- Do NOT sell tobacco products in a vending machine unless it is in an adult-only facility
- Do NOT give away free samples of tobacco products to consumers, including any of their components or parts
Why is Tobacco 21 important?
While youth cigarette use has decreased dramatically over the last two decades, youth are now trying and using electronic cigarettes and other vaping products at unprecedented rates-leading to a new generation on Nevadans that are at risk for nicotine addiction.
Today, more than 1 in 5 (21.4%) Nevada high school students report using tobacco products-including electronic cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars, or chew.
Research suggests that raising the tobacco age of sale to 21 may significantly reduce the number of youth and young adults that start smoking and, hence, could reduce smoking-related deaths. Reducing youth access to tobacco products, in this way, may have the largest effect on initiation rates among teens aged 15-17 years old.3
Are there resources for retailers that sell tobacco products to help them comply with the law?
Tobacco retailers play an important role in protecting children and adolescents by complying with laws and regulations.
Retail owners, managers, and employees are encouraged to take the FREE online tobacco merchant training at ResponsibleTobaccoNevada (NV)*. Responsible Tobacco NV is a resource to help educate merchants about the current laws and regulations and to ensure proper training of staff members in regards to selling tobacco products.
The FREE online training provides:
- An overview of federal and state tobacco laws
- An overview of various tobacco products
- A how to guide for checking ID’s
- Tips on dealing with challenging customer interactions
Proper tobacco retailer point-of-sale signage (such as We Card materials) is important in order to inform customers about the minimum sales age law and remind employees to verify age before making a tobacco product sale.
If you need assistance in purchasing signage or materials, please email us at GetHealthy@WashoeCounty.gov. We may have funding available to help!
*Please note that the Responsible Tobacco Nevada website is currently being updated for accuracy regarding recent changes in the law.
1. Tobacco 21. What is Tobacco 21?. https://tobacco21.org/what-is-tobacco-21/. Accessed April 9, 2020.
2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Tobacco 21. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/retail-sales-tobacco-products/tobacco-21. Accessed April 9, 2020
3. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Institute of Medicine Report Provides Evidence to Increase Tobacco Sale age to 21-States and Localities should Act to Save Lives. https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/press-releases/2015_03_12_iom_21. Accessed April 9, 2020.
Last modified on 09/22/2021