Comprehensive merchant education, including information on adverse health effects, coupled with inspections reinforce the importance of compliance. Inspections also are an opportunity to assist retailers who are not in compliance.
The next step is testing. Controlled buys using a minor decoy identify retailers who ignore the law and continue to sell to underage customers.
This section lists resources on permitting tobacco retailers, plus laws and administrative rules regulating the sale and possession of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products in Texas.
Tobacco retailers must notify their employees about tobacco laws and obtain their signatures on Form 69-117, Cigarette, E-Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retail Employee Notification (PDF) as records of the notification.
It is illegal to sell tobacco products to minors (persons younger than 21). Federal rules require anyone 30 years old or younger to present valid identification before buying tobacco products. Warning signs must be posted at each retailer's location.
In 2015, the 84th Legislature updated the Health and Safety Code (SB 97) to include the regulation of e-cigarettes to prevent minors from purchasing e-cigarette products.
In 2019, the 86th Legislature passed Senate Bill 21, increasing the legal age from 18 to 21 for the sale, distribution, possession, purchase, consumption or receipt of cigarettes, e-cigarettes or tobacco products. The bill provides an exemption for any individual aged 18 and above with a valid active military identification card from the U.S. or state military forces. Individuals aged 18 and above on the effective date of the bill (Sept. 1, 2019) are exempt from the new age requirement.
If, after notice and hearing, the Comptroller finds that a retailer has sold cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars and/or other tobacco products to a minor at a place of business for which a permit has been issued, the Comptroller may suspend or revoke the business’s permit or assess an administrative fine of up to $1,000 per violation. (Tax Code, Sections 154.1142 and 155.0592)