Thursday, June 4, 2020 - 11:20am

Every year, the Tobacco Free Columbia & Dane County Coalition (TFCDC) conducts unannounced compliance checks of tobacco retailers in Dane County where underage youth, under the supervision of Public Health staff, attempt to purchase tobacco and nicotine products. Under Wisconsin law, persons under 18 years of age cannot purchase cigarettes, nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, or tobacco products.  

“In 2019 we saw a significant increase in sales of tobacco products to youth in Madison and Dane County,” said Cristhabel Martinez, Prevention Program Coordinator. “We want to remind all retailers to check for IDs and not sell to anyone under the age of 21.”

In 2019, 107 compliance checks were conducted in Dane County (excluding Madison) for the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to minors. A variety of businesses like gas stations, convenience, grocery and liquor stores, bars and restaurants, tobacco and vape shops, pharmacies, bowling alleys, country clubs, and campgrounds were inspected. The compliance checks resulted in 13 sales of tobacco or nicotine products to youth, giving the county (excluding Madison) a sales rate of 12%. This is significant increase from the 6 sales in 2018 (4% sales rate).

For the City of Madison, 125 compliance checks were conducted in 2019. The inspections resulted in 19 sale of tobacco or nicotine to youth, giving the City of Madison a 15% sales rate. This is a significant increase from the 1 sales in 2018 (1% sale rate).

This past year, two newly announced federal policies raised the legal age to buy tobacco and restrict some flavors in pod or cartridge-based systems. The first law makes 21 the legal age to purchase tobacco in the U.S. The law is currently in effect, meaning tobacco retailers cannot sell tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to those under the age of 21. The FDA is responsible for the law's enforcement.

The second policy comes from the FDA and prohibits the use of fruit, candy, and mint flavors for pod or cartridge-based e-cigarettes (tobacco and menthol flavors for those products are exempted). The policy also exempts e-juice flavors for open systems like mod and tank-based e-cigarettes. The policy took effect 30 days from when the policy published in the federal registrar.

Tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Wisconsin and nationwide. Reducing youth access to tobacco and nicotine products remains a top priority to ensure a new generation doesn’t begin a lifelong addiction to nicotine.

With all this in mind we want to remind all business in Dane County and Madison to continue to check for IDs and not sell to anyone under the age of 21 in 2020, and encourage all retailers to take a free and easy training to help educate your employee's on selling tobacco products lawfully. Retailers can visit to access free training to help keep our kids tobacco-free.

The compliance check program is part of Wisconsin Wins, an evidence-based tobacco control program funded by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

For more information about the Wisconsin Wins Program, please visit or contact Cristhabel Martinez at (608) 216-3619 or

For more information about the free online tobacco/nicotine sales training for retailers and clerks, please visit

A copy of the 2019 City of Madison Tobacco & Nicotine Compliance Report and 2019 Dane County (excluding Madison) Tobacco & Nicotine Compliance Report can be found on our website.