Tobacco Prevention for Youth - SYNARThe legal age to purchase tobacco is 21.
Each year, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services teams up with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to visit tobacco product retailers across the state to determine if they are following the law.
A tobacco inspector, along with a person, under the age of 21, visit select stores and try to buy a tobacco product. If the retailer is willing to sell the tobacco product to the under-age buyer, the store is cited in violation of the law and may be fined.
Since the Department began randomly checking stores in 1997, the number of retailers complying has steadily increased. In fact, as of 2018, it's estimated that more than 90% of retailers are in compliance, no longer attempting to sell tobacco products to minors. You can find the latest county-by-county compliance inspection results in the Related Links section below.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) requires states to effectively enforce laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco products to persons under the age of 21. Once a year the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services submits a report detailing its activities to enforce the law.
Tobacco Retailer Materials
TDMHSAS, in consultation with the Departments of Agriculture and Health, has revised and updated our tobacco retailer education materials.