ATC Tobacco and Vaping Enforcement Program
By Missouri state law, the sale of cigarettes or vaping products (e-cigarettes) to anyone under age 18 is illegal. In addition to cancer risks, smoking poses special health dangers to young people and elevated risks for long-term, long-lasting effects:
- Exposure to nicotine can have lasting effects on adolescent brain development.
- Smoking causes reduced lung growth and early cardiovascular damage.
- Young people are also at greater risk of mood disorders and permanent lowering of impulse control.
Smoking at an early age can also be especially addictive. The use of tobacco products, no matter what type, almost always starts during adolescence, when the developing brain is most vulnerable to nicotine addiction. Almost 90 percent of adult daily smokers started smoking by the age of 18, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.These facts highlight the critical need for targeted youth tobacco prevention efforts designed to protect Missouri’s kids.
On August 28, 2001, the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) gained responsibility for enforcement of youth access to tobacco laws. The division enforces the tobacco laws under Sections 407.925 through 407.934, RSMo.
In 2014, Missouri approved legislation barring people under 18 from buying vaping products, or e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices used to heat flavored liquid nicotine solutions, creating a vapor that is inhaled. Previously, vaping products could be purchased regardless of age.
On Oct. 15, 2019, Governor Mike Parson signed Executive Order 19-18, concerning the use of vaping devices in Missouri. In the order, Governor Parson directed the Missouri Department of Public Safety to deter the use of vaping devices among the youth of Missouri. The Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control is the state agency responsible for enforcing Missouri’s youth tobacco laws. The Governor’s order cited U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures that showed through Oct. 4, 2019 there had been 22 reports of vaping-related illnesses in Missouri, including one death, with a majority of the reports being among people age 15 to 24.
Violations of Missouri’s youth tobacco laws can result in citations against the seller for sale of tobacco to a minor. The retail location can also be cited civilly for the sale of tobacco to a minor. ATC works in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration to enforce Missouri’s youth tobacco laws.
To report a potential tobacco/vape violation click here.
Review tobacco and vaping compliance check inspections using the U.S. Food & Drug Administration database here.
Information about youth smoking/vaping and prevention, is available here.
Resources to Quit Smoking and Vaping
"The Real Cost" facts and figures on the dangers of youth vaping are available here.
"The Real Cost" social media resources to help quit/prevent vaping are available here.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration's role in regulating vaping is explained here.
Are you ready to quit tobacco? Thinking about quitting tobacco? Or, do you just want to know more? The Missouri Tobacco Quitline can help tobacco users quit by offering counseling, practical information on how to quit, referrals to other cessation resources, and, if eligible, FDA-approved cessation medications.
The Missouri Tobacco Quitline is free, confidential and an effective way to help Missourians quit all forms of tobacco, including e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. This service is also available for former smokers who are trying to avoid a relapse and for those who want information to help a family member or friend quit tobacco.
- Combining counseling and quit-smoking medications, such as patches, triples success rates. The Missouri Tobacco Quitline offers:
- Up to four coaching calls (up to 10 coaching calls if pregnant)
- Personalized quit plans
- A program website to track your progress and connect with others working to quit
- Optional email and text messaging programs to keep you focused on your quit
- Up to two weeks of nicotine replacement therapy, if medically appropriate and if eligible
Tobacco and Vaping Compliance Checks
Minors employed by ATC and state, county, municipal and other law enforcement agencies may purchase cigarettes and vaping products for enforcement purposes. Learn more »
Tobacco Regulations and Statutes
Tobacco merchants should be aware of their responsibilities under the rules and regulations governing youth access to tobacco. Learn more »
Review tobacco and vaping compliance check inspections using the U.S. Food & Drug Administration database here. Learn more »
Retailers and their employees are the first line of defense in the battle against underage tobacco use and vaping. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has resources to assist retailers in preventing tobacco/vaping violations here.
ATC will be hosting Merchant Education and Training on state and federal tobacco laws through free monthly webinars via your computer. Learn more »
Underage Tobacco Use
Smoking threatens the health of thousands of young people in Missouri every year. Almost 22 percent of Missouri high school students smoke. For more information about youth smoking and youth tobacco use prevention, visit our underage tobacco use page.