Federal and State Laws
Federal Minimum Age of Sale
of Tobacco Products is 21.
On Dec. 20, 2019, the President Trump signed legislation amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raising the federal minimum age for sale of tobacco products to 21 years.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the law prevents:
• Tobacco sales to those under the age of 21
• Tobacco vending machine sales
• Sales of packages of fewer than 20 cigarettes
• Tobacco sponsorships of sports, entertainment, or social events
• Giving sample cigarettes and brand-name non-tobacco promotional items
*except in adult-only facilities
The law also…
• Requires smokeless tobacco product warning labels
• Ensure that claims about reduced health risk are supported with research evidence
• Requires listing of ingredients in tobacco products
• Preserves State, Local, and Tribal authority
Pennsylvania State Law: Act 112, Section 6305
Pennsylvania Act 112 of 2002, an Act amending Titles 18 and 53 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, prohibits the sale of tobacco to those under the age of 21. In 2002, Pennsylvania’s Act 112 amended Section 6305 of the Crimes Code and created new fines for clerks and owners of tobacco retail stores. In November of 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that prohibits the sale of any tobacco, nicotine or related item to anyone under 21 years of age.
• Prohibits sales of tobacco products to people under 21 years of age
• Prohibits the furnishing of a tobacco product to people under 21 years of age (selling tobacco to a minor)
• Prohibits vending machines to be in any place where those under 21 can gain access without the supervision of a parent or guardian
• Restricts displaying or offering for sale a cigarette out of a pack (loosie)
• Restricts access to tobacco products by non-employees
The goal of this law is to decrease access to tobacco products for youth and ultimately end illegal tobacco sales to and use by minors in Pennsylvania. In response to this Act, the Pennsylvania Department of Health conducts compliance checks at tobacco retailers across the state to make sure tobacco products are not sold to minors.
Clean Indoor Air Act
The Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA), Act 27, signed in 2008, makes it illegal to smoke in a public place or workplaces. The Act also defines what is a “public place”, provides a list of examples. Unfortunately, there are some exceptions including private residences (not including apartments or licensed childcare facilities), private social clubs and functions “where the site involved is under the control of the sponsor (except where the site is owned, leased, or operated by a state or local government agency) and a wholesale or retail tobacco shop”.
The Act is enforced by compliance checks, as well as financial penalties for those establishments or individuals smoking in prohibited areas. For more information about the CIAA, please visit the PA Department of Health website or our partners at Clean Air Council.
Master Settlement Agreement and FDA Youth Sale Law Enforcement
As part of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to prevent illegal sale of tobacco products to underage youth, the Pennsylvania Department of Health conducts periodic tobacco sales compliance checks or “undercover buys”. Accompanied by an adult (though they might not enter the store together), a 15–20-year-old employee will attempt to purchase tobacco without a valid form of photo identification. If the merchant makes the sale, they are later notified and fined. The youth attempting to make the illegal purchase may ask for cigarettes, cigars, blunts, or e-cigarettes/vaping products. There is no deception involved during a tobacco compliance check or “undercover buy.” If a clerk asks the age the purchaser, they will provide their actual age and will not lie to persuade or coax a sale.