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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC DPH: Chronic Disease and Injury Section

Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch

Youth Tobacco Use Prevention: Restricting Minors’ Access To Tobacco Products

Research from the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that reducing tobacco sales to minors is part of a comprehensive approach to preventing tobacco use among children and youth.

The Guide to Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends community mobilization around reducing illegal sales to minors when combined with additional interventions, such as stronger local laws directed at retailers, active enforcement of retailer sales laws, retailer education and reinforcement.

Federal and State Age of Sale Regulations

Federal law prohibits retailers from selling tobacco products, including e-cigarettes to people under age 21. Sale of tobacco products to those under age 21 are subject to federal FDA enforcement.

Use this FDA form to report potential violations of the federal tobacco sales regulations. These submissions are reviewed by FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Office of Compliance and Enforcement.

In North Carolina, the state’s Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) Division can only enforce the North Carolina youth access to tobacco products law, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 18 years old. 

Under N.C. law, ALE educates retailers on the state youth access to tobacco products law and enforces the law by providing the following services:

  • Educating tobacco retailers through regularly scheduled BARS (Be A Responsible Seller) programs throughout the state
  • Conducting inspections at retail tobacco locations to reinforce the importance of abiding by the state tobacco laws
  • Providing tobacco retailers with on-site assistance for any questions they have pertaining to the state tobacco laws
  • Enforcing the state tobacco laws by conducting surveillance at retail locations that sell tobacco

Report Violations of state tobacco sales law by Email or by calling 1-877-ALE-AGENT.