Tobacco Products

Regulations Restricting the Sale, Distribution, and Marketing of Cigarettes, Cigarette Tobacco, and Smokeless Tobacco: Consumer Fact Sheet

Every day in the United States, nearly 3,300 youth under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, and more than 700 become daily cigarette smokers. Many of these youth will become addicted before they are old enough to understand the risks and may die too young of tobacco-related diseases. This is an avoidable personal tragedy for these youth and their families. It is also a preventable public health disaster for our country.  The rule, authorized by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, bans the sale, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to kids under age 18. The rule became effective on June 22, 2010. Just like the rule that bans certain flavored cigarettes, these legal requirements help prevent our kids from becoming the next generation of Americans to die early from tobacco-related diseases.

Federal Requirements: Sale and Distribution  
  • Prohibits the sale of cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and smokeless tobacco to people younger than 18.
  • Prohibits the sale of cigarette packages with fewer than 20 cigarettes.
  • Prohibits the sale of cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and smokeless tobacco in vending machines, self-service displays, or other impersonal modes of sales, except in very limited situations.
  • Prohibits free samples of cigarettes and limits distribution of free sample smokeless tobacco products.

Federal Requirements: Marketing (Labeling, Advertising, and Promotion)
  • Prohibits tobacco brand name sponsorship of any athletic, musical, or other social or cultural event, or any team or entry in those events.

How You Can Help

You can be part of protecting the next generation from tobacco-related diseases. Please discuss with your children, grandchildren, and other members of your family and community the importance of reducing the access to and attractiveness of tobacco products to our kids. Please help retailers in your community understand and comply with the law. If you see any stores not following the rule, please contact FDA by calling 1-877-287-1373 to report a violation.


Additional Resources

Contact FDA

(9am EST-4pm EST)

For General Inquiries:

Center for Tobacco Products Food and Drug Administration

10903 New Hampshire Avenue

Building 71, Room G335

Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002

Page Last Updated: 02/22/2015
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