Section 18-13-121 C.R.S. of the Colorado criminal code makes it unlawful to give, sell, distribute, dispense, or offer for sale a cigarette, tobacco product, or nicotine product to anyone under 21.
Selling tobacco to a person under 21 is a Colorado civil infraction that carries a fine of $200.
To help you better understand Colorado’s law against selling or giving tobacco to underage people, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers will discuss:
- 1. What tobacco items are illegal to sell to people under 21?
- 2. When checking I.D. is required
- 3. Consequences of selling tobacco to a person under 21
- 4. Defenses to selling cigarettes or nicotine to a person under 21
- 5. Federal cigarette laws
For purposes of 18-13-121 C.R.S., prohibited items include:
- Any product that contains nicotine or tobacco or is derived from tobacco and is intended to be ingested, inhaled, or applied to the skin, and
- Devices for ingesting or inhaling tobacco or nicotine — including, without limitation, electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, and pipes.
However, “cigarette, tobacco product, or nicotine product” does include any product that the Food and Drug Administration of the United States (FDA) has approved as a tobacco use cessation product.
Unless someone appears more than 30 years old, you must — before giving, selling, distributing, dispensing, or offering to sell that person any cigarette, tobacco product, or nicotine product — request a government-issued photographic identification and examine it to establish that the person is at least 21.
Selling cigarettes, tobacco or nicotine to a person under 21 is a civil infraction. The penalty for selling tobacco to a person under 21 is a fine of $200.1
It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under 18-13-121 C.R.S. that you reasonably relied upon a document that identified the individual receiving the cigarette, tobacco product, or nicotine product as being 21 years of age or older.
You also do not commit an offense under this section if the person under twenty-one years of age was acting at the direction of an employee of a governmental agency authorized to enforce or ensure compliance with laws relating to the prohibition of the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, or nicotine products to underage people. In other words, the government is not allowed to entrap you by using an underage person to try to buy tobacco from you.
The federal Family Smoking Prevention And Tobacco Control Act applies to the sale of cigarettes, tobacco and nicotine products on federally owned or controlled property, including, without limitation, on military bases and Indian reservations within the state of Colorado.
Like Colorado’s law against providing tobacco to underage people, federal law prohibits the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to anyone under 21.
Call us for help…
If you or someone you know has been charged with a violation of Colorado’s laws against providing tobacco, alcohol, drugs or handguns to an underage person, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
Our Colorado criminal lawyers understand how easy it is to get charged with giving a prohibited item to someone under 21 – even when you are innocent or simply made an honest mistake.
Also see our related article on the Colorado crime of permitting an unauthorized minor to drive.
To schedule a free consultation, fill out the form on this page or call us at our Denver home office:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver CO 80211