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.
Minnesota law requires that all tobacco vendors be licensed and have at least one unannounced tobacco compliance check conducted annually.
A compliance check is a tool to identify tobacco retail establishments that sell tobacco to underage youth.
A person under age 18 attempts to purchase a tobacco product while a law enforcement officer observes or waits outside the premises. The underage person is instructed to not attempt to look older or lie about their age or use a false ID.
If the young person is successful in purchasing tobacco, the enforcement agent issues a criminal citation to the clerk and an administrative citation to the license holder.
Regular compliance checks enforce this regulation and help create a social norm that purchasing tobacco is illegal for youth under the age of 18. The Dakota County Public Health Department issues an annual summary of tobacco compliance checks conducted in Dakota County.