Regulations issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require tobacco retailers to sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco only to people age 18 and older. A compliance check is a tool to identify tobacco retail establishments that sell tobacco to underage youth. Many law enforcement agencies also conduct alcohol compliance checks as a way to identify licenses stores, restaurants, and bars that sell alcohol to underage youth.
Minnesota law requires that all tobacco vendors be licensed and have at least one unannounced tobacco compliance check conducted annually.
During these checks:
- An underage person attempts to purchase or order tobacco/alcohol, as an officer observes or waits outside the business.
- The underage person is told to look their age, be honest about their age, and not to use a fake ID.
If the young person is successful in purchasing tobacco/alcohol, the enforcement agent issues a criminal citation to the clerk and an administrative citation to the license holder/owner.
Regular compliance checks enforce this regulation and help create a social norm that underage purchasing is illegal for youth. The Dakota County Public Health Department issues an annual summary of alcohol and tobacco compliance checks conducted in Dakota County.
For more information, please see County Ordinance 125 - Tobacco.