It goes without saying—it’s illegal to sell alcohol and tobacco to anyone under the age of 21 in the United States. Although this is common knowledge, there are some establishments that willfully ignore the fact that they’re accepting fake IDs—or they are completely unaware that they are—because they don’t use age verification technology with every sale.
If you suspect there is a store, bar, or restaurant in your area that is selling age-sensitive products to minors, you might want to seek a legal way to report them.
We suggest taking the following official routes rather than confronting the owner of the establishment or the person who is accepting fake IDs. As a civilian you cannot enforce the law. The best way for you to do your civic duty and protect the minors and businesses in your area is to file an official, legal report.
To File a Potential Tobacco Product Violation
On December 20, 2019, an amended version of the Cosmetic Act raised the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old. This includes the sale of cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes.
According to the FDA, a potential tobacco product violation includes the following:
- Sales to minors
- Flavored cigarettes
- Distribution of free samples of tobacco products except in limited circumstances
- Placement of cigarette or smokeless tobacco product vending machines in prohibited areas (or providing access to self-service or direct access of tobacco products in prohibited areas)
- Sale of cigarettes in packages of less than 20
- Illegal marketing and advertising
- Describing tobacco products as “light,” “mild,” or “low” – or claiming a product is safer or less harmful without an FDA order
- Distributing t-shirts or other promotional or novelty items with brand names of cigarette or smokeless tobacco products
- Sponsoring events using the brand name of a tobacco product
Most stores, chains and owners want to do the right thing and avoid sales to minors. In looking at search terms in this area, it's clear that many minors are looking for stores with a reputation for selling to anytone. This is a list you don't want to be one. An age verification system is cheap insurance for your reputation and for avoiding fines.
Ron Tobb, Owner, Minor Decliner
The fastest and easiest way to file a potential tobacco product violation is to fill out form FDA 3779. Any member of the public is allowed to fill out this form. You will be asked to provide the following information:
- WHEN you saw the potential violation occur
- WHERE the potential violation occurred
- WHAT the potential violation was, specifically
To File a Potential Alcohol Product Violation
States are neither allowed to sell nor supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. This means that there doesn’t necessarily have to be an exchange of money for alcohol. A person simply has to allow a minor to be in possession of alcohol to be in violation of the law.
You can often see this around college campuses or universities.
One of the top search terms we see is “who does not card near me”. The word gets out, and your risk goes through the roof. The best way to avoid this is to have a solid age verification program paired with self compliance monitoring.
The easiest way to report an alcohol product violation is to fill out the TBB tip form online. You will have to fill out your information and enter comments that relate to the illegal activity you want to report.
When you fill out the form, make sure you select “Alcohol, tobacco, or firearms illegal manufacturing or sales.
Every establishment and person who is selling age-sensitive products is responsible for making sure they don’t accept fake IDs or sell to minors. The best way for them to protect themselves is to use an ID scanner with age verifying technology.
If you see illegal activity happening in your area, it’s in everyone’s best interest (store owners, shops, schools, and communities) for you to do your civic duty and report them formally and legally.