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Your Guide to the New FDA Tobacco Regulations

Last month, the FDA issued new “deeming” regulations regarding the sale and manufacture of tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, and pipe tobacco. This essentially extended the regulations already placed on cigarettes to all tobacco products. As with any new law, there is bound to be some confusion during the adjustment period, but the BARS Program is here to help retailers* navigate the changes and prepare to meet the regulations by the time they go into effect.


What Do the New FDA Tobacco Regulations Mean for Retailers?


Prior to this ruling, no federal law prevented retailers from selling e-cigarettes, hookahs, or cigars to people under 18. With these new FDA tobacco regulations, which go into effect August 8, 2016, retailers must note the following:

  • NO products containing tobacco may be sold to persons under the age of 18 years (either in person or online);
  • Age verification by photo ID is required;
  • Covered tobacco products may not be sold in vending machines (unless in an adult-only facility); and
  • The distribution of free samples is not allowed.

For tobacco retailers, the message here is clear: you should be carding for purchases of ALL tobacco products (e-cigs, vape products, cigars, etc.). And as we discussed recently on the blog, this means carding all consumers who appear to be 27 or younger (or being even more cautious and following our recommendation to card all consumers under 35).

What’s the Risk?

Once the new FDA tobacco regulations go into effect, retailers will be vulnerable to stings aimed at enforcing the new rules. As of April 30, 2016, about 11.5% of FDA stings resulted in failure. This number is likely only to grow with the new, stricter regulations. So to avoid costing your business thousands of dollars in fines, sign up with the BARS Program today to ensure your compliance. Our customers simply don’t fail stings, which is why enforcement and licensing officials has always appreciated the service we offer to retailers of age-sensitive products.

If you have any questions regarding the new regulations or would like to become a BARS member today, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or 1-877-540-5500. 


*Product manufacturers have a separate set of concerns, which will not be addressed here

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