North Carolina Tobacco Law
Purchase by persons under the age of 18 years:
- It is illegal for anyone under age 18 to buy, attempt to buy, to receive, or to use a false or misleading proof of age for the purpose of purchasing or receiving any tobacco product or cigarette wrapping papers.
- Persons under age 18 engaging in such activities are guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor, a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 days of community service and up to a $1,000.00 fine.
Sale or distribution to persons under the age of 18 years:
- It is illegal to sell or give tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. If convicted, the person directly involved in the sale or distribution is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
- Retail merchants must check photo identification of customers trying to buy tobacco products if the customer appears to be under age 18. If convicted of failing to check photo identification of anyone under age 18, the person shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
- Retail merchants shall prominently display near the point of sale a sign which states the following: N. C. LAW STRICTLY PROHIBITS THE PURCHASE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS BY PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 18. PROOF OF AGE REQUIRED. Failure to post the required sign shall be an infraction punishable by a fine of $25 for the first offense and $75 for each succeeding offense.
- Retail distributors are required to train their sales employees in the requirements of this law.
- Tobacco products shall not be distributed in vending machines except in any establishment which is open only to persons 18 years of age and older, or in an establishment that provides continuous control by the owner, licensee of the premises, or employee in order to activate the machine prior to each purchase.
Any person convicted of a Class 2 misdemeanor under this law qualifies for deferred prosecution on the first violation. If the person commits no other violations during the next twenty-four months, the criminal record may be expunged. If the same person is charged a second time in the twenty-four months, the district attorney could seek prosecution for both offenses.
Other provisions in the law:
- The law prohibits any person from sending, assisting, aiding or abetting a person less than 18 years of age in purchasing, attempting to purchase, or receiving tobacco products. This crime is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor.
- Local police departments and sheriffs' offices have the authority to enlist persons under the age of 18 to conduct compliance checks. The Department of Health and Human Services also has authority to involve minors to conduct annual inspections of retail outlets as required by the federal Synar Law.
- The law prohibits any county, city or town to enact ordinances, rules, or regulations concerning the sale, distribution, display or promotion of tobacco products or cigarettes wrapping papers. NOTE: This provision does not apply to the regulation of vending machines.
Store clerks who sell tobacco products to underage persons could face up to $1,000.00 in fines and/or up to 30 days in jail, a Class 2 misdemeanor.
The same punishment applies:
- for persons under 18 convicted of purchasing, attempting to purchase or accept receipt of tobacco products or who use false proof of age.
- for those distributing, aiding, assisting or abetting any other person to distribute tobacco products to any person under age 18.
- for failure on the part of the retail employee to check photo identification of any person under 18 attempting to purchase tobacco products
In addition, a $25.00 fine may be imposed on a merchant for failing to post the required sign, and a $75.00 fine for each succeeding offense.
« this page last modified 05/20/13 »