The Youth Access Law prohibits minors from
purchasing or possessing tobacco products, including
cigarettes, cigars, chew, pipes, bidis, etc. This
law also restricts tobacco coupons and vending
machine locations and requires tobacco retailers to
have a license to hand out tobacco samples.
Enforcement of the youth access law is required (RCW
The law reads:
- Any person who sells or gives, or permits to
be sold or given to any person under the age of
eighteen years any cigar, cigarette, cigarette
paper or wrapper, or tobacco in any form is
guilty of a gross misdemeanor (RCW 26.28.080).
The goal of this law is to stop the early
initiation of tobacco use. The average smoker
starts smoking at 12 years old. If young people can
be prevented from starting to smoke before the legal
age of 18, they are less likely to ever start using
To ensure that tobacco retailers are complying
with the Youth Access Law, local health departments,
along with the Washington State Liquor Control
Board, perform youth compliance checks throughout
the year. The federal government requires compliance
checks to be conducted and if states fall below 80
percent compliant, they may lose federal substance
abuse funds. If tobacco retailers are found in
violation of the Youth Access Law, they can be fined
or have their tobacco license suspended. In order to
avoid these penalties, tobacco retailers need to
correctly check the identification of anyone who
appears younger than age 35.
KNOW THE LAW!
If you would like more information on the Youth
Access Law contact the
Washington State Liquor Control Board.
Report a Violation
If you would like to report a violation of the
Youth Access Law, please contact the Washington
State Liquor Control Enforcement Agency at
360-753-6271 with the date/time of the violation,
the name of the store, and address.