It is possible to receive cigarette samples with coupons or through promotional offers and discounts, under federal law, but federal law prohibits tobacco companies, retailers and any person or organization from distributing free samples of cigarettes, or free coupons that are redeemable for samples at little or nominal costs. Federal law also gives states, counties and local municipalities the authority to enact further restrictions on the distribution of cigarette samples.Continue Reading
The key federal law governing the distribution of samples of cigarettes is the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. This law prevents the distribution of free samples of cigarettes, cigars, little cigars and hookah accessories containing tobacco. The law also bans the distribution of packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes. Companies are allowed to distribute coupons that discount the cost of cigarettes, but consumers may not redeem the coupons for free samples of cigarettes or cigarettes at such little or nominal cost as to constitute a giveaway, such as selling a pack of cigarettes for a penny.
The law also gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the sale, manufacture and marketing of tobacco products. It further enables local governments to place even more restrictive measures on the distribution of cigarette samples. Local governments have successfully avoided constitutional challenges under the Commerce clause and the First Amendment by implementing tighter controls on the use of coupons and the ability to redeem them for cigarette samples, rather than attempting to prevent companies from distributing coupons within their jurisdictions. States have also established controls on the distribution of cigarette samples under the Master Settlement Agreements executed with the tobacco industry in the wave of lawsuits brought against the industry during the 1990s.Learn more about Health