Do not sell tobacco or alternative tobacco products to minors. No sales of tobacco products are permitted to persons less than 18 years of age.
- This includes cigarettes, cigars, bidis, smokeless tobacco and wrapping papers, as well as electronic cigarettes and alternative nicotine products.
- The sale of single cigarettes is not permitted.
- Tobacco products may be sold from a vending machine only if the machine is (a) posted with a notice, in a conspicuous manner and place, indicating that the purchase or possession of tobacco products by minors is unlawful and (b) located in a place that is not open to the general public and is not generally accessible to minors. An establishment that prohibits the presence of minors unless accompanied by an adult is not open to the general public.
- Do not sell tobacco products to anyone, even if they are of age, whom you know or believe is buying on behalf of a minor.
At all times, carefully check IDs to determine if the person is under 18 years of age.
Electronic Cigarettes and Alternative Nicotine Products
In 2014, the Virginia House and Senate unanimously passed legislation that bans retailers from selling electronic cigarettes and alternative nicotine products to minors.
More specifically, the legislation prohibits the purchase or possession of tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, and alternative nicotine products by minors or sale of tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, and alternative nicotine products to minors.
Retailers must post a sign stating the sale of these products to any person under 21 years of age (effective July 1, 2019) is prohibited by law. Those that do not comply are subject to civil penalties, including a fine of up to $2,500.
As the Commonwealth’s lead agency for enforcement of laws pertaining to tobacco products, Virginia ABC recommends that licensees use the following verbiage: "Effective July 1, 2019, the sale of tobacco products, nicotine vapor products or alternative nicotine products to any person under 21 years of age is prohibited by law."
Download a ready-made sign. (PDF)
The Coalition for Responsible Tobacco Retailing administers the "We Card" program. "We Card" offers training and materials to help retailers prevent underage sales of tobacco. While most of their materials apply to tobacco law, many of their items also apply to the legal age to purchase alcohol.
Visit www.wecard.org to learn more about their efforts and to see their catalog of underage purchase prevention materials.
Revised April 10, 2019