Tobacco 21

Tobacco use poses a significant risk to the health of Clark County’s youth. To help prevent tobacco use among youth, the legal sales age for ANY tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars, and electronic vapor products – is now 21, nationwide and in Nevada.

The Facts

  • Tobacco is the #1 preventable cause of disease and death, nationwide and in Nevada.
  • 95% of adult smokers began before they turned 21.
  • Ages 18 to 21 are a critical period when many users move from experimental use to regular, daily use.
  • 80% of smokers who start before they turn 18 will turn into daily regular smokers by the age of 21.
  • Evidence shows that the vape industry illegally markets to youth, targeting teens to create lifelong addictions.
  • 65.3% of students who used tobacco in 2021 reported seriously thinking about quitting. Limiting access to tobacco products has been found to help reduce nicotine addiction by minimizing youth supply.

Federal Regulations

The FDA provides guiding regulations to tobacco retailers. Local jurisdictions may strengthen and expand these guidelines. In Nevada, retailers must follow the following regulations:

  • Check the photo ID of everyone under age 30 who attempts to purchase any tobacco product
  • Only sell tobacco products to customers ages 21 or older
  • A clerk must access the product and give it to the customer. The customer may not have direct access to tobacco products.
  • Can NOT sell tobacco products in a vending machine unless in a 21+ facility
  • Can NOT give away free samples of tobacco products to consumers, including any of their components and parts

Compliance in Nevada

Tobacco retailers are selling tobacco products to youth (under 21 years) at an all-time high, reaching an alarming 40% violation rate in Nevada. This leaves the state out of compliance with the federal Synar program requirement of less than 20% of retailers in violation.

In Nevada:

  • 11.1% of high school students who smoke reported that they obtained cigarettes in a store/gas station in the past month
  • 7.4% of high school students who use electronic vapor products reported that they obtained these products in a store/gas station in the past month
  • 54.1% of high school students thought it would be fairly easy or very easy to get cigarettes if they wanted some
  • 58.6% of high school students thought it would be fairly easy or very easy to get electronic vapor products if they wanted some

Violating federal requirements for legal tobacco sales puts our youth at risk for nicotine addiction and tobacco-related diseases. Violating the 20% violation rate also significantly jeopardizes Nevada’s funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment.