F

Virginia Grade Card

Population Covered: 8,535,519

Tobacco 21 Since: July 1, 2019

The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation evaluated all current statewide Tobacco 21 laws for their alignment with best practices that lead to effective prevention of youth initiation of tobacco and nicotine products.

ENFORCEMENT
GRADE: C

Designated Enforcement Agency

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Best Practice:

Health Department or Designated Agency

Virginia Enforcement:

Virginia’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Board (ABC) is the designated enforcement agency

Age Verification

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Best Practice:

Before distributing any tobacco product, the tobacco retailer or the tobacco retailer’s agent or employee shall verify that the purchaser is at least 21 years of age. Each tobacco retailer or tobacco retailer’s agent or employee shall examine the purchaser’s government-issued photographic identification if the purchaser appears to be under 30 years of age.

Virginia Enforcement:

ID check is required for any purchaser that appears to be under 21 years of age

Who is the Penalty Placed on?

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Best Practice:

The primary burden for sales to underage purchasers should fall on the retailer who is profiting from the sales of the product and not the purchaser or non-management employee.

Virginia Enforcement:

Penalty is placed on the retailer and “Person”

Number of Compliance Checks

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Best Practice:

Provide authority for the state, county, or municipality to inspect tobacco retailers for compliance with MLSA 21 and a mandated minimum number of annual compliance checks. Model recommends two per year for every tobacco retail establishment.

Virginia Enforcement:

Virginia does not mandate annual compliance checks

Compliance Checks Done With Underage Decoys Aged 18-20

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Best Practice:

The designated agency shall conduct compliance checks by engaging persons between the ages of 18 and 20 to enter the tobacco retail establishment to attempt to purchase tobacco products.

Virginia Enforcement:

Decoy age is not specified

LICENSING
GRADE: F

Statewide Tobacco Retail License

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Best Practice:

A comprehensive tobacco retail license allows states and municipalities to regulate all tobacco retailers, fund enforcement programs, and create a penalty structure that suspends or revokes a license for retailers that continue to violate a MLSA 21 law.

Virginia Licensing:

Virginia does not have a statewide Tobacco Retail License

Tobacco Retail License Program Funds Enforcement

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Best Practice

The fee for a tobacco retail sales license shall be set and used to cover the administrative cost for licensing administration, education and training, retail inspections, and unannounced compliance checks. The tobacco retail sales license fee should not exceed the cost of the regulatory program authorized beyond the statute/ordinance.

Virginia Licensing:

Virginia does not have a statewide Tobacco Retail License

Tobacco Retail License Fee

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Best Practice:

An effective licensing system requires tobacco retailers to pay an annual license fee and allows it to be periodically adjusted. Fee must be adequate to cover License administration, education/training, and enforcement. An annual fee of lower than $300 is generally inadequate to fund a licensing program.

Virginia Licensing:

Virginia does not have a statewide Tobacco Retail License

PENALTIES
GRADE: C

Penalty Type

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Best Practice:

Establish a civil penalty structure for violations rather than a criminal penalty structure.

Virginia Penalties:

Virginia has a civil penalty structure

Violation Accrual Period

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Best Practice:

36 months

Virginia Penalties:

Virginia does not specify a length of violation accrual period

Monetary Penalty and Suspension Structure

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Best Practice:

1st violation = $500
2nd violation = $750 and (7) day suspension
3rd violation = $1,000 and (30) day suspension
4th violation = $1000 and (3) year suspension

Virginia Penalties:

Underage sale, distribution, or purchase of a bidi is punishable by civil penalty:

1st Violation = $500 fine

2nd Violation = $1,000 fine

3rd Violation = $2,500 fine

Underage sales of a nicotine vapor product, alternative nicotine product, hemp product intended for smoking, or tobacco product other than a bidi is punishable by a civil penalty:

1st Violation = fine not to exceed $100

2nd Violation = fine not to exceed $200

3rd Violation and subsequent offenses = fine not to exceed $500

Where a retail establishment has failed to train its employees, the court may impose a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000.00 in lieu of any penalties imposed for a violation.

No threat of suspension or revocation of selling tobacco products included in penalty structure for sales to individuals under 21.

Does the Law Penalize Youth for Purchase, Use or Possession

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Best Practice:

An evidence-based, best practices tobacco MLSA 21 policy should focus penalties on the tobacco retailer who profits from the illegal sale rather than the youth who is likely addicted to the product. PUP laws may be unlikely to reduce youth smoking significantly.

Virginia Penalties:

Virginia penalizes youth for purchase, use, and possession (PUP) of tobacco products

PREEMPTION
GRADE: C

Does Preemption exist, was it added, or expanded

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Best Practice:

Local governments have a critical role in reducing the deadly toll of tobacco by regulating sales and restricting youth access to these products to prevent use and addiction.

Tobacco 21 legislation should not introduce new tobacco control preemption, nor expand existing tobacco control preemption, and instead should be used as an opportunity to assert local authority or repeal existing tobacco control preemption.

Virginia Preemption:

No specific provision concerning preemption in state law; however, local communities may not be allowed to pass stronger laws/ordinances further restricting youth access to tobacco products due to Dillon’s Rule that exists in Virginia

DEFINITIONS
GRADE: A

Definitions

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Best Practice:

A comprehensive definition will cover all current, known tobacco and nicotine products, which include not only cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco, but also products like pipes, rolling papers, electronic smoking devices, and other related devices. A strong definition will also be broad enough to capture future products.

Virginia Definitions:

Virginia’s Tobacco 21 law does not include a single comprehensive definition of tobacco, but does define products separately and regulates all products within their minimum legal sales age