Age Minimum to Sell
Tobacco Products – 4/22/05
Q: In my state, there is no law/statute
that states a minimum age for an employee to sell tobacco.
It appears to be the decision of the store/corporation in
their own policies. We have laws for liquor distribution,
but not tobacco. Do any of the other states have a law in
place with a minimum age requirement to sell tobacco?
- Alabama: The minimum age to purchase
is 19 in Alabama. There is no minimum age to sell, however
the minor must be under the supervision of an adult to sell
“It shall not be unlawful for a minor employee of
a tobacco permit holder to handle, transport, or sell tobacco
or tobacco products if the minor employee is acting within
the line and scope of employment and the permit holder,
or an employee of the permit holder who is 21 years of age
or older, is present.”
- Arkansas: The following is Arkansas Law:
- It shall be unlawful for any person to give, barter,
or sell to a minor under eighteen (18) years of age:
- Tobacco in any form; or
- Cigarette papers.
- It shall be unlawful for any person under eighteen
(18) years of age:
- To use or possess, unless acting as an agent of
the minor's employer within the scope of employment:
- Tobacco in any form; or
- Cigarette papers;
This allows underage clerks to possess tobacco
within the scope of employment. Some companies
have policy that their underage clerks do not
sell tobacco, but that is strictly company policy
– not law. It seems to be a problem in
Arkansas as well.
- California: No law in California. Corporate/store
decision also. Only thing that would count would be labor
laws (age limits for anyone to be employed).
- Colorado: No state law addressing age
requirements for selling tobacco.
- Delaware: No age requirement for selling
- Hawaii: There is no minimum age to sell,
BUT if a minor is charged with selling the (minor) seller
will be arrested and will be booked.
- Massachusettts: No law.
- Michigan: Michigan doesn't have a law
specifically stating a minimum age for sale of tobacco products,
so by default it's left up to employers. There is however,
a Michigan 'youth employment standards act' that says a
minor shall not be employed in, about, or in connection
with an occupation which is hazardous or injurious to the
minor's health or personal well-being or which is contrary
to standards established pursuant to this act, unless a
deviation is granted under section 20. Section 20 charges
the department of labor with promulgating rules with standards
not inconsistent with the working conditions, safety,health
and personal well-being of minors in various types of employment.
To my knowledge, no one has ever pursued this avenue as
a possible option of disallowing minors under 18 from engaging
in retail sale of tobacco products.
- Missouri: No law. Section 407.933. 1.
of Revised Statutes of Missouri: "No person less than
eighteen years of age shall purchase, attempt to purchase
or possess cigarettes or other tobacco products unless such
person is an employee of a seller of cigarettes or tobacco
products and is in such possession to effect a sale in the
course of employment,..."
- New Hampshire: The NH Liquor Commission,
Bureau of Enforcement is tasked with enforcing tobacco sales
in NH. Lieutenant Edwards, from the Commission, weighed
in by stating that the legal age to sell tobacco in NH is
16, provided that someone over the age of 18 is in charge
of the licensed establishment.
- North Dakota: We do not have a state
law for minimum to sell, but we do have a local ordinance
in the City of Dickinson regarding this.
- Rhode Island: No law. In Rhode Island
we have certain laws on the books regarding sales to minors.
Go to www.health.ri.gov
and click on t or s, for tobacco or smoking. Click on Rhode
Island Tobacco Control Program and scroll down to Laws.
These are the laws that we have re: youth.
- Washington: Washington State has no minimum
age to sell tobacco but does require that where persons
under 18 sell tobacco, there must be a supervisor over the
age on 18 on site at all times.
- West Virginia: In West Virginia this
question comes up a few times a year. Our State Code (W.Va.
Code 16-9A-3) states, "No person under the age of eighteen
years shall have on or about his or her person or premises
or use any cigarette, or cigarette paper or any othe rpaper
prepared, manufactured or made for the purpose of smoking
any tobacco products, in any form; or, any pipe, snuff,
chewing tobacco or tobacco product;......
When a minor sales clerk is touching a tobacco product or
papers or pipes, he/she is serving as an agent of the retailer
and is not touching the product for his/her intention of
WV does have a law that requires adults 18+ to handle the
sale of alcohol, but we do not have a comparable law for
tobacco products. We don't think there is a need to open
up WV State code to add in anything which prohibits a minor
sales clerk from handling the products (it would be too
dangerous, they'd probably slip in preemption).
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