California State Law - Age Based Sales Restrictions: The Stake Act

More Regulations For Age Restrictions

Learn more about The Stake Act.

age-restrictionsCalifornia Business and Professions Code 22952

You must be 21 years of age or older to purchase tobacco or tobacco related products (i.e. cigarette papers, tobacco paraphernalia, instruments designed for the smoking or ingestion of tobacco products) in the State of California.

The exception is for active duty military personnel who are 18 years of age or older. An identification card issued by the United States Armed Forces shall be used as proof of age for this purpose.

Retailers must check the identification of purchasers of tobacco products who reasonably appear to be under 21 years of age.


First Violation: A civil penalty of $400 - $600

Second Violation (within a 5-year period): A civil penalty of $900 - $1,000

Third Violation (within a 5-year period): $1,200 - $1,800, plus a 45-day suspension of the license

Fourth Violation (within a 5-year period): $3,000 - $4,000, plus a 90-day suspension of the license

Fifth Violation (within a 5-year period): $5,000 - $6,000, plus a revocation of the license

Additional civil penalties in the amount of $250 each for the third, fourth, and fifth violations are assessed by the California Department of Taxes and Fees Administration (CDTFA) and deposited into the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Compliance Fund for the administration of these provisions. The CDTFA may also suspend or revoke the retailer’s license with 10 days’ notice.


According to the California Business & Professions Code Section 22952(b), every store that sells tobacco products must post a boldly printed, contrasting-color sign in a conspicuous place at each point of purchase saying that tobacco products may not be sold to underage individuals.

The sign must contain the following words with initial letters capitalized in the following manner: “The Sale of Tobacco Products to Persons Under 21 Years of Age is Prohibited by Law and Subject to Penalties. To Report an Unlawful Tobacco Sale Call 1-800-5 ASK-4-ID. U.S. Armed Forces active duty personnel with military ID must be at least 18 year of age. Valid Identification May Be Required. Business and Professions Code Section 22952.”

The sign must be square (at least 5.5 inches by 5.5 inches) or rectangular (at least 3.66 inches by 8.5 inches), and the required words must meet specified sizes and typefaces.



Please note that a business owner may not be penalized for the same incident under both the STAKE Act and the Penal Code Section 308.

Penalties under the STAKE Act:

First Violation: A civil penalty of $200

Subsequent Violation: A civil penalty of $500

Fines under Penal Code Section 308(b):

First Offense: $50 fine

Second Offense: $100 fine

Third Offense: $250 fine

Fourth Offense: $500 fine

Subsequent Offense: $500 or by imprisonment for not more than 30 days


21 Code of Federal Regulations Section 1140.14

The Deeming Rule prohibits the sale of covered tobacco products to minors. All retailers are required to verify the purchaser’s birth date by reviewing the individual’s photographic identification. However, retailers are not required to verify the age of any person who is more than 26 years of age.

To be in compliance with the FDA Deeming Rule Restricting the Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors:

  • Check photo ID of everyone under age 27 who attempts to purchase any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco, smokeless tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, e-cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), and nicotine gel.
  • Only sell tobacco products, including all listed above, to persons over the age of 18. However, Retailers must follow state and local tobacco laws, even if they are more restrictive. For example, California states the minimum age is 21 years of age.


First Violation: A warning letter

Second Violation (within a 12-month period): $279

Third Violation (within a 24-month period): $559

Fourth Violation (within a 24-month period): $2,236

Fifth Violation (within a 36-month period): $5,591

Sixth Violation (within a 48-month period): $11,182

Additionally, the FDA may pursue a No-Tobacco-Sale Order (NTSO) against retailers that have a total of five or more repeated violations of certain restrictions within 36 months. Retailers are prohibited from selling regulated tobacco products at the specified location during the period of the NTSO.

This website and all of its published content is strictly for users age 21 or above. Not all legal requirements related to tobacco products are discussed in the contents of this site. Please remember that it is your responsibility to comply with all applicable provisions of the FD&C Act, and other federal, state, or local requirements that apply to you.
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