Enjoying a cigar is the classic way to celebrate the birth of new children, but the children themselves will have to wait several years to partake. Some traditions are only fit for family members and friends of a certain age. Regardless of the occasion, you have to be 21 to buy and enjoy tobacco in the United States.
The process of age verification is simple when you visit your favorite tobacconist in person. All you have to do is present your government-issued identification. Things get a little bit more complicated when you buy cigars online.
Buying Cigars Online vs. in Person
The age requirement is the same online as it is in person: People under the age of 21 may not buy cigars online in the United States. On top of that, there are additional restrictions by state.
Cigar Buying Age Restrictions by State
Different states have their own restrictions and age verification rules for buying cigars online. When you try to buy cigars online from a reputable retailer, the checkout process will account for the differences between states. Here are a few examples of the state restrictions we follow:
- When shipping to California, we must confirm delivery by phone the day before shipping. We also require the signature of a person 21 years of age or older for delivery.
- We don’t ship small cigars–size limits vary by state–to Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Vermont, or Washington.
- We must receive and store age verification documents to ship cigars to Delaware. We must also require the signature of a person 21 years of age or older upon delivery in this state.
- We don’t ship any products to South Dakota or Utah.
These are only a few examples of state restrictions. And yeah, we know, it sounds like a pain. But consider this: When buying cigars online, you can expect a reputable business to abide by all federal and local laws. If they don’t, you have to wonder what else they are cutting corners on.
How Was It Determined You Had to be 21?
The minimum age to purchase and enjoy tobacco has generally been rising throughout the history of the United States. New Jersey became the first state to set a minimum age (16 years old) in 1883. The average minimum age was closer to 21 in most states by the 1920s.
The tobacco industry did some lobbying in the 1920s to get minimum ages back down to an average range of 16 to 19. All states had raised their average ages to 18 or 19 by 1993 because of political pressure from the federal government, with some municipalities raising the age even more.
Hawaii became the first state to raise the minimum age for tobacco to 21 in 2015. Several other states followed suit. As of December 20, 2019, the smoking age throughout all the United States is 21 because of federal legislation passed by Congress.
How Does Age Verification Work When You Buy Cigars Online?
Most online cigar stores use third-party companies to verify the buyer’s age. For example, Flying Cigar company uses AgeChecker.net to confirm a shopper’s identity and age. The process generally goes like this:
- During the checkout process, the person buying a cigar has to enter identifying information.
- The age-checking service references that information against a large database to verify the buyer’s age.
- Additional information may be requested after the sale to complete the age verification process.
If someone tries to check out under a false identity, they’ll have a hard time getting through the age verification process. For example, if an 18-year-old uses their own credit card but their parent’s name, that would raise a red flag. Depending on the state and other conditions, it may be necessary for the buyer to upload ID images.
No matter which information you have to submit to buy cigars online from your state, Flying Cigars will keep it safe. If you’re 21 years of age or older and having a hard time being verified, you can contact us to verify your age.
Are There Exceptions for Buying Cigars While Underage?
For the cigar enthusiast of legal age and from a state without additional restrictions, it’s more convenient than ever to shop for a cigar online. Sometimes, though, people might want to buy cigars even though they aren’t of age yet. Is there a way to buy cigars online if you aren’t 21 years old yet?
Buying Cigars Outside of the United States
The minimum age to buy tobacco online can vary from country to country. In the United Kingdom, for example, the minimum age to purchase cigars is 18. The minimum age is also 18 in parts of Canada, though you have to be 19 to purchase tobacco in other parts of Canada.
This might be a tempting offer for an American citizen between the ages of 18 and 21. However, reputable international tobacco vendors won’t ship to you if you’re underage in your country of residence. If you find a vendor that will, you’re dealing with a business that doesn’t mind participating in shady practices to save a few dollars. Again, this makes it hard to trust their cigars.
Buying Cigars as a Gift
What if you’re 18, but you want to get cigars for your parents for their wedding anniversary? Unfortunately, you’ll have to give that gift idea to someone else. The age verification process is for the person buying the cigars, not the person who will ultimately smoke them.
You can still do the research to pick out the perfect cigars, but you can’t buy them online by yourself. You can still tell your parents you picked out cigars for them and send them the link. If you want to keep it a surprise, you can buy a humidor as a gift or find accessories for cigar smokers.
Buying Cigars on the Black Market
If you’re under 21 but want to try a cigar, you might get tempted to look for ways around the law. Whether it’s through an illegal marketplace or asking someone else to buy cigars for you, we wouldn’t recommend this. The black market isn’t exactly known for quality control. There’s still the option of asking a friend to buy cigars for you, but do you really want to risk getting your friend in trouble?
If you’re underage, the best thing you can do is wait. Cigar aficionados are generally patient people anyway. The hobby is all about savoring flavor, and nothing will make your next cigar taste better than delaying gratification.
If you’re 21 years old or older, you can already buy cigars online. All that’s left is to pick a cigar brand and wait for a quick delivery!