The Office of the Attorney General has issued two sets of regulations under its consumer protection authority (M.G.L. c. 93A) to address the way that tobacco products are sold in Massachusetts. In particular, the regulations are intended to prevent access to tobacco by minors.

The sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products are governed by the regulations at . The sale and distribution of cigars are governed by the regulations at .

Among other things, the regulations:

  • Require retailers to implement all measures reasonably necessary to prevent the sale of tobacco products to persons under the age of 18.
    • Retailers with six or more employees are presumed to comply with this requirement if they 
      1. implement a training program for all employees regarding compliance with the law prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors, and implement a "secret shopper" compliance program (as defined in the regulations) -- or 
      2. if they receive a letter of compliance from a state or local official.
    • Retailers with fewer than six employees are presumed to comply with this requirement if they implement the training program.
  • Generally require tobacco products to be sold in direct face-to-face exchanges.
  • Require retailers to verify the age of all tobacco product buyers appearing to be under the age of 27, with a valid government-issued photo ID.
  • Prohibit the use of "self-service" tobacco product displays, and require tobacco products to be located out of the reach of customers, except in adult-only facilities.
  • Prohibit sampling, promotional giveaways, and any other free distribution of tobacco products, except in adult-only facilities.
  • Prohibit the unpackaging or repackaging of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, or little cigars (e.g., no sales of individual cigarettes).
  • Require age verification for the sale of tobacco products by mail (at a minimum, a legible photocopy of a valid government-issued ID).
  • Prohibit the distribution of branded apparel and other merchandise in connection with the sale of tobacco products.
  • Restrict the use of vending machines to establishments that are licensed to serve alcohol, and then only if the machine employs a lock-out device and the machine is within the sight and control of an employee and is posted with a notice that minors are prohibited from purchasing tobacco products.
  • Require retailers who sell hand-rolled cigars, or who display for purchase manufactured cigars outside their original package, to conspicuously post one of two specified warning statements.

The tobacco industry challenged the Attorney General's tobacco product regulations in federal court. The regulations were successfully defended with two exceptions:

  • The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit struck down regulations that would have required warnings on cigar packaging and advertising (940 CMR 22.04, 22.05). The Federal Trade Commission subsequently adopted a set of cigar warning requirements, in consent orders applicable nationwide to certain major cigar manufacturers.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court struck down regulations that would have prohibited outdoor advertising of tobacco products within 1,000 feet of a school or public playground, and regulations that would have prohibited in-store tobacco advertising posted below a height of five feet if the store is located within those areas (940 CMR 21.04(5); 940 CMR 22.06(5)).