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Compliance, Enforcement & Training

Note: On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available, and the information on this page will be updated accordingly in a timely manner.

FDA vigorously enforces the Tobacco Control Act (TCA), which provides FDA with a wide array of powerful regulatory tools to protect the health of all American families.

Compliance and Enforcement

FDA closely monitors retailer, manufacturer, importer, and distributor compliance with Federal tobacco laws and regulations and takes corrective action when violations occur. 

FDA takes a 3-pronged approach to help industry comply with the law by:

Helping Retailers Comply with FDA Regulations

Retailers play an important role in protecting the health of young people by following the law and refusing to sell regulated tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. Find more information on our website, including:

FDA Age Calculator

The FDA released a voluntary smartphone application, “FDA Age Calculator,” to help retailers comply with federal, state, and local age restrictions for selling tobacco products. With the “FDA Age Calculator,” retailers can use their personal smartphones to help determine if a customer is old enough under federal law to buy tobacco products.

Download FDA Age Calculator

Apple App Store Google Play

Manufacturer, Distributor, and Importer Compliance

To legally sell a new FDA-regulated tobacco product in the United States, you must receive a written order from FDA permitting the sale of a new tobacco product under one of three pathways to market.

In addition, any products marketed with modified risk claims must have an FDA order in effect that permits such sale or distribution.

If your product is found to be Not Substantially Equivalent (NSE), it is illegal to sell or distribute the product in interstate commerce and to import the product into the United States.

Manufacturers may not distribute any smokeless tobacco product without a required warning statement for every smokeless tobacco package and advertisement.

If you are found in violation of FDA rules and regulations, your product will be considered "misbranded" and/or "adulterated," making it illegal to sell or distribute the product in interstate commerce and to import the product into the United States. Doing so may result in FDA initiating regulatory action (e.g., seizures, injunctions).

FDA restricts the way tobacco manufacturers, retailers, and distributers can advertise and regulated tobacco products, especially marketing efforts designed to appeal to youth.

Additional Resources

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