The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) divisions of Behavioral Health and Tobacco Use Prevention and Control, and the Iowa Department of Revenue Alcohol & Tax Operations Division (the Division), share responsibility for certain tobacco use prevention and enforcement duties in the state of Iowa.

The Division is authorized pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 142A and a Memorandum of Understanding with HHS to provide enforcement for Iowa’s tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vapor product laws. The Division is also tasked with providing education to retailers regarding Iowa’s tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vapor product laws.

In July 1992, the U.S. Congress enacted the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act (P.L. 102-321), which included the Synar Amendment (section 1926) aimed at decreasing youth access to tobacco.  The amendment requires states to enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to underage individuals.  To determine compliance with the legislation, the amendment requires each state to inspect retail tobacco outlets and report the findings to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Visit the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services website to download the Annual Synar Report.

FDA Compliance

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sponsors retail compliance inspections. The Alcohol and Tax Operations Division conduct these inspections across Iowa. Compliance officers conduct checks to make sure retailers are adhering to federal laws.

The inspections determine retailers’ compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and the Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco to Protect Children and Adolescents, found at Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1140 (21 C.F.R. Part 1140).

Retail inspections focus on sale and distribution restrictions including, but not limited to:

  • Age and ID verification.
  • Requirements for labeling and advertising of smokeless tobacco products.
  • Restrictions on the sale of single cigarettes.
  • A ban on certain candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes.
  • Prohibited self-service displays and vending machines.

Compliance inspection results are posted on the FDA website.

FDA resources

The FDA has a website to assist retailers in being fully compliant with the Tobacco Control Act.

Many resources are available under the "Compliance & Enforcement" section.

  • Retailer Education Materials
  • Regulations & Guidance for Retailers
  • Tobacco Retail Compliance Webinars
  • Retailer Training and Enforcement
  • Overview of Federal Laws & Regulation
  • Misbranded and Adulterated NSE Tobacco Products

"This is Our Watch" program

The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products has developed an education program called “This is Our Watch.” This program helps tobacco retailers better understand FDA tobacco regulations, the importance of compliance, and the greater purpose—protecting the nation’s youth from the harms of tobacco use.

Learn more about the "This is Our Watch" program and order free program materials.

Questions regarding the FDA tobacco compliance inspections should be directed to the FDA at 877.CTP.1373 or