Tennessee

Alerts & Updates

Key Contacts

Tennessee Department of Revenue
Tobacco, Alcohol, and Miscellaneous Tax Hotline
(615) 253-0680 (option 1)
(615) 741-0682 fax
tn.revenue@tn.gov

Tennessee Ethics Commission
(615) 741-7959
ethics.counsel@tn.gov

PCA Contact

David Jessup david@premiumcigars.org

Legislative Information

Taxation

Tennessee imposes a tax on every dealer or distributor of a tobacco product for the privilege of selling tobacco products in the state. The tobacco tax is declared to be a levy on the consumer, and the consumer will be liable for the tax and subject to the incidence of the tax. Distributors must add the amount of tobacco taxes levied to the price of other tobacco products, and the distributor may state the amount of the taxes separately from the price of the tobacco products on all price display signs, sales or delivery slips, bills, and statements that advertise or indicate the price of the tobacco products.

Little cigars that meet the definition of cigarettes for tobacco tax purposes are required to have the tobacco tax stamp affixed to each package. Cigarette means 

  • all rolled, shredded, or cut tobacco, or any substitute therefor, wrapped in paper, or substitute therefor, and
  • all rolled, shredded or cut tobacco, or any substitute therefor, wrapped in homogenized tobacco wrapper, and
    • Being within customary cigarette sizes and
    • Marketed in cigarette type packages.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001: Part definitions

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1002: Tax imposed

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1003: Tax levied on consumer


Department of Revenue staff reported that Tennessee localities do not levy additional taxes on tobacco products.

The tax on other tobacco products, including cigars, cheroots, stogies, beedies, bidis, manufactured tobacco, and snuff of all descriptions whether made of tobacco or any substitute for tobacco, is 6.6% of the wholesale cost price.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1005: Rate on other tobacco products

All licensed persons making wholesale sales of other tobacco products in Tennessee must report their tobacco products activities on the Tobacco Products Return (Form TOB-552) and all applicable schedules on or before the 15th day of each month, along with payment for taxes due. Tennessee retailers purchasing tobacco products from wholesalers and/or manufacturers not licensed in Tennessee must report such activities on Schedule C using their cost price.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1011: Records and reports

Form Type / NameForm Number / Link
Tennessee Department of Revenue: Tobacco Tax FormsTobacco Tax Forms

Cigar and Smoking Tobacco Definitions

Smoking” means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or other lighted tobacco product in any manner or in any form.

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1802(16)

Tobacco products” means cigars, cigarettes, manufactured tobacco, and snuff, but not tobacco produced and processed by the grower for the grower’s own use and not for sale.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001(23)

Cigar” or “cigars” include any roll of tobacco, for smoking, irrespective of the tobacco being flavored or adulterated, or mixed with other ingredients, where such a roll has a wrapper made chiefly of tobacco, except “cigar” or “cigars” does not include cigarettes.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001(1)

Loose tobacco” is tobacco that is not contained in rolls or tubes and that has been removed from its original packaging.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001(12)

Wholesale dealer and jobber” means any person who maintains wholesale facilities in 1 or more permanent locations, and engages in the business of receiving, storing, purchasing, selling at wholesale only, importing unstamped tobacco products, and otherwise handling tobacco products for resale at a wholesale price only to other licensed wholesale dealers and jobbers, or tobacco distributors or retail dealers, but does not sell tobacco products directly to the ultimate consumer.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001(26)

Tobacco distributor” means any person who receives, purchases, sells, or otherwise handles tobacco products as a secondary wholesaler and who acquires all that person’s tobacco products on which, prior to receipt by the person, the tobacco tax required by Tennessee and any other state has been previously paid by a Tennessee wholesaler that is also a Tennessee appointed and bonded affixing agent, and who sells or otherwise makes available such tobacco products to retailers in this and perhaps other states at a wholesale price for the purpose of resale to the consumer.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001(21)

Retail dealer” means each tobacco vending machine, place, store, booth, concession, truck or vehicle, or person that in any way sells or makes available tobacco products directly to the ultimate consumer.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001(18)

Wholesale cost price” means the manufacturers’ and/or processors’ actual sales price of any tobacco product, delivered to Tennessee dealers, exclusive of any discounts, rebates, allowances, or the privilege tax on tobacco products.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001(25)

Sale” means, in addition to its usual meaning, any sale, use, transfer, exchange, barter, gift, or offer for sale and distribution, in any manner or by any means whatsoever.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001(19)

Restrictions

Tennessee law prohibits smoking: in all enclosed public places, including aquariums, galleries, libraries, museums, banks, laundromats, factories, professional offices, retail service establishments, child and adult day care facilities, convention facilities, educational facilities, elevators, health care facilities, hotels and motels, common areas of multiple-unit residential facilities, polling places, public and private transportation facilities, restaurants, restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways, retail stores, places of meeting or public assembly under the control of the state or a political subdivision of the state, service lines, shopping malls, sports arenas, theaters, and other entertainment venues.

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1803: Places where smoking is prohibited


“No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol, consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it, must be clearly and conspicuously posted at every entrance to every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited by the owner, operator, manager, or other people in control of that place.

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1805: Posting of nonsmoking signs


The General Assembly intends to occupy and preempt the entire field of legislation concerning the regulation of tobacco products. Any law or regulation of tobacco products enacted or promulgated after March 15, 1994, by any agency or political subdivision of the state or any agency thereof is void; provided, that cities, counties, and counties having a metropolitan form of government may regulate the use of tobacco products in buildings owned or leased by the political subdivisions; and provided further, that airport authorities, utility districts, and special school districts may regulate the use of tobacco products in buildings owned or leased by the entities. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, individual owners or operators of retail establishments located within an enclosed shopping mall retain the right to determine the policy on the use of tobacco products within the person’s establishment. A municipality, a county or a county having a metropolitan form of government is authorized by local ordinance or resolution to prohibit smoking on the grounds of a hospital or in the public areas immediately outside of a hospital building and its entrances, including public sidewalks. Any regulation or ordinance that is passed or adopted by a local government may prohibit smoking by a distance of up to 50 feet from a hospital’s entrance unless the application of a 50-foot limit would place hospital patients in a potentially unsafe condition.

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1551: Purpose of part; exemptions; authority to prohibit smoking


Tennessee SB 26 (2019) prohibits vapor use within Child Care Centers, any room in a community center used for child activities, Group Care Homes, Healthcare facilities, Museums, all public and private kindergartens and elementary and secondary schools, residential treatment facilities for children and youth., youth development centers and facilities, zoos, school grounds, including any public seating areas, such as bleachers used for sporting events, or public restrooms.

The following are exempt from the ban on smoking, subject to conditions:

  • Age-restricted venues
    • An “age-restricted venue” is a legal establishment that affirmatively restricts access to its buildings or facilities at all times to persons who are 21 years of age or older by requiring each person who attempts to gain entry to those buildings or facilities to submit for inspection an acceptable form of identification for the express purpose of determining if the person is 21 years of age or older
  • Designated hotel and motel guest rooms
  • All premises of any manufacturer, importer, or wholesaler of tobacco products, all premises of any tobacco leaf dealer or processor, and all tobacco storage facilities
  • Non-enclosed areas of public places provided that smoke from those areas does not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited. Exempt non-enclosed areas of public places include:
    • Open-air patios, porches, or decks
    • Any area enclosed by garage-type doors on 1 or more sides when all those doors are completely open
    • Any area enclosed by tents or awnings with removable sides or vents when all those sides or vents are completely removed or open
  • Nursing homes and long-term care facilities, provided that the exemption only applies to residents of those facilities and that resident smoking practices will be governed by the policies and procedures established by those facilities. Smoke from such areas must not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited.
  • Private businesses with 3 or fewer employees where, in the discretion of the business owner, smoking may be allowed in an enclosed room not accessible to the general public. Smoke from such areas must not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited.
  • Private clubs provided that this exemption does not apply to any entity established solely for the purpose of avoiding compliance
  • Private homes, private residences, and private motor vehicles, unless those homes, residences, and motor vehicles are being used for childcare or daycare or unless the private vehicle is being used for the public transportation of children or as part of health care or daycare transportation
  • Retail tobacco stores that prohibit minors on their premises
    • A “retail tobacco store” is a retail store that derives its largest category of sales from tobacco products and accessories.
  • Commercial vehicles when the vehicle is occupied solely by the operator

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1804: Exempted areas

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1802: Part definitions


Tennessee law does not provide specific application procedures to qualify for exemption from the smoking ban. Localities may have specific requirements.

Individuals under 18 years of age cannot possess a tobacco product, purchase or accept the receipt of a tobacco product, or present or offer to any person any purported proof of age which is false, fraudulent, or not actually that person’s own for the purpose of purchasing or receiving any tobacco product. However, it is not unlawful for a person under 18 years of age to handle or transport tobacco or tobacco products as a part of and in the course of the person’s employment, provided that the person is under the supervision of another employee who is at least 21 years of age.

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1505: Prohibited purchases or possession by minors; penalties


Division of Labor Standards staff reported that, in practice, individuals under 18 years of age may not work in tobacco retail stores.

It is illegal for any person to sell or distribute any tobacco products to another person who is not 18 years of age or older or to purchase a tobacco product on behalf of another person who is under 18 years of age. It is also unlawful for any person to persuade, entice, send, or assist a person under 18 years of age to purchase, acquire, receive, or attempt to purchase, acquire, or receive a tobacco product.

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1504: Sale or distribution to minors unlawful; proof of age requirement


Every person who sells tobacco products at retail must post conspicuously and keep so posted at the place of business a sign, no smaller than 93.5 square inches, to ensure that it is likely to be read at each point of sale, stating the following:

STATE LAW STRICTLY PROHIBITS THE SALE
OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS OR SMOKING PARAPHERNALIA TO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS

PROOF OF AGE MAY BE REQUIRED

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1506: Required postings


The General Assembly intends to occupy and preempt the entire field of legislation concerning the regulation of tobacco products. Any law or regulation of tobacco products enacted or promulgated after March 15, 1994, by any agency or political subdivision of the state or any agency thereof is void.

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1551: Purpose of part; exemptions; authority to prohibit smoking

In Tennessee, it is illegal to distribute tobacco product samples in or on any public street, sidewalk, or park.

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1504(c): Sale or distribution to minors unlawful; proof of age requirement


Distribution of tobacco product samples is subject to tax and licensing requirements, as “sale” includes any sale, use, transfer, exchange, barter, gift, or offer for sale and distribution, in any manner or by any means whatsoever.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1001(19)


The General Assembly intends to occupy and preempt the entire field of legislation concerning the regulation of tobacco products. Any law or regulation of tobacco products enacted or promulgated after March 15, 1994, by any agency or political subdivision of the state or any agency thereof is void.

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1551: Purpose of part; exemptions; authority to prohibit smoking

Operating Your Business

Every person engaged in the business of selling, distributing, or handling tobacco products at the wholesale level in Tennessee must:

  1. Register for the tobacco tax by filing an Application for Registration (Form RV-1300501)
  2. Obtain a license from the Department of Revenue by filing an Application for Tobacco License (Form TOB-555)
  3. Pay the appropriate fee:
CLASSIFICATIONFEE
Manufacturing Distributor$200 for each plant
Tobacco Manufacturer$200 for each warehouse
Wholesale Dealer / Jobber$200 for each sale warehouse
Tobacco Distributor$100 for each secondary wholesale location where tobacco products are received or ordered for delivery to other than the ultimate consumer

Licenses must be renewed on or before May 31st of each year by filing the same form.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1015: Licenses; penalties for unlicensed operations


All licensed persons making wholesale sales of other tobacco products in Tennessee must report their tobacco products activities on the Tobacco Products Return (Form TOB-552) and all applicable schedules on or before the 15th day of each month, along with payment for taxes due. Tennessee retailers purchasing tobacco products from wholesalers and/or manufacturers not licensed in Tennessee must report such activities on Schedule C using their cost price.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1011: Records and reports


Age-restricted venues are exempt from the ban on smoking and may, therefore, allow both smoking and drinking within their establishments. An “age-restricted venue” is defined as a legal establishment that affirmatively restricts access to its buildings or facilities at all times to persons who are 21 years of age or older by requiring each person who attempts to gain entry to those buildings or facilities to submit for inspection an acceptable form of identification for the express purpose of determining if the person is 21 years of age or older. Tennessee law does not provide a specific application procedure establishments to qualify for exemption from the smoking ban. Localities may have specific requirements.

Localities may also require additional business licenses.

Form Type / NameForm Number / Link
Tennessee Department of Revenue: Tobacco Tax FormsTobacco Tax Forms

Political Involvement

 “Lobby” means to communicate, directly or indirectly, with any official in the legislative branch or executive branch for the purpose of influencing any legislative action or administrative action. 

Lobby” does not include:

  • communications with officials of the legislative or executive branches by an elected or appointed public official performing the duties of the office held
  • a duly licensed attorney at law acting in a representative capacity on behalf of a client appearing before an official of the executive branch for the purpose of determining or obtaining such person’s legal rights or obligations in a contested case action, administrative proceeding, or rulemaking procedure
  • an editor or working member of the press, radio or television who, in the ordinary course of business, disseminates news or editorial comment to the general public
  • communications by an incumbent or prospective contractor or vendor, or an employee of the contractor or vendor, while engaged in selling or marketing to the state, or any department or agency of the state, by demonstrating or describing goods or services to be provided or by inquiring about specifications, terms, conditions, timing, or similar commercial information.
    • However, the contractor or vendor, or employee of the contractor or vendor, will be deemed to be a lobbyist if actively engaged in selling or marketing to an official in the executive branch or an official in the legislative branch whose duty it is to vote for, let out, overlook, or in any manner to superintend any work or any contract so marketed or sold
  • communications by an employee of a school board, municipal utility, utility district, or any department, agency or entity of state, county or municipal government; provided, however, that, if the board, utility, district, department, agency or entity employs, retains or otherwise arranges for lobbyist services in this state by a contractor, subcontractor or other representatives who are not an employee of such board, utility, district, department, agency or entity, then “lobby” includes communications by the contractor, subcontractor or other representative, and the contractor, subcontractor or other representatives must comply with the lobbying registration and other provisions pertaining to lobbyists; provided further, however, that the board, utility, district, department, agency or entity that employs the contractor, subcontractor or other representative is not deemed to be an employer of a lobbyist
  • communications with officials of the executive branch by any person to promote, oppose, or otherwise influence the outcome of a decision related to the issuance or award of a bond, grant, lease, loan, or incentive
  • communications with officials of the executive branch by any person to promote, oppose, or otherwise influence the outcome of a decision related to any component of an economic development incentive package; provided, that any person who is otherwise required to register as a lobbyist

Tenn. Code. § 3-6-301(15)

Lobbyist” means any person who engages in lobbying for compensation.

Tenn. Code. § 3-6-301(17)

Lobbying firm” means any firm, corporation, partnership, or other business entity that regularly supplies lobbying services to others for compensation.

Tenn. Code. § 3-6-301(16)

Legislative action” means introduction, sponsorship, debate, voting, or any other non-ministerial official action or non-action on any bill, resolution, amendment, nomination, appointment, report, or any other matter pending or proposed in a legislative committee or in either house of the general assembly.

Tenn. Code. § 3-6-301(14)

Administrative action” means the taking of any recommendation, report, or non-ministerial action; the making of any decision or taking any action to postpone any action or decision; action of the governor in approving or vetoing any bill or resolution; the promulgation of a rule; or any action of a quasi-legislative nature, by an official in the executive branch of state government.

Administrative action” does not include ordinary and routine permitting, licensing, or compliance decisions by an official of the executive branch of state government.

Tenn. Code. § 3-6-301(1)

Expenditure” means any advance, conveyance, deposit, distribution, transfer of funds, loan, payment, pledge, or subscription of money or anything of value, and any contract, agreement, promise, or other obligation, whether or not legally enforceable, to make an expenditure.

Tenn. Code. § 3-6-301(9)

Not later than 7 days after becoming a lobbyist or an employer of a lobbyist, the lobbyist or employer must electronically register with the Tennessee Ethics Commission. Each year thereafter, the lobbyist or employer must register in the same manner.

  • Each lobbyist is required to pay a $150 registration fee for each registration and a $40 training fee with their first registration.
  • Each employer is required to pay a $150 registration fee for each registration.

The registration year for lobbyists and employers is the period of January 1 — December 31.

Tenn. Code. § 3-6-302: Electronic registration of lobbyists and employers of lobbyists; lobbyist photographs; amendment of inaccuracies; consolidated statements; fees


Each employer must also electronically file a Semi-Annual Lobbying Expenditure Report for Employers of Lobbyists for the preceding 6-month period within 45 days after June 30th and December 31st.

Tenn. Code. § 3-6-303: Biannual employer disclosure reports

Form Type / NameForm Number / Link

Shipping Regulations

Tennessee does not have any specific restrictions concerning the shipping of tobacco products to consumers, but Tennessee has age verification requirements. Tennessee has specific requirements concerning the shipping of cigarettes to the consumer. 

Tenn. Code § 67-4-1029: Delivery sales of cigarettes, enforcement


Every person engaged in the business of selling, distributing, or handling tobacco products at the wholesale level in Tennessee must register for the tobacco tax by filing an Application for Registration (Form RV-1300501) and obtain a license from the Department of Revenue by filing an Application for Tobacco License (Form TOB-555) and the appropriate fee (manufacturing distributor: $200 for each plant, tobacco manufacturer: $200 for each warehouse, wholesale dealer and jobber: $200 for each sale warehouse, and tobacco distributor: $100 for each secondary wholesale location where tobacco products are received or ordered for delivery to other than the ultimate consumer). Licenses must be renewed on or before May 31st of each year by filing the same form.

 Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1015: Licenses; penalties for unlicensed operations


All licensed persons making wholesale sales of other tobacco products in Tennessee must report their tobacco products activities on the Tobacco Products Return (Form TOB-552) and all applicable schedules on or before the 15th day of each month, along with payment for taxes due. Tennessee retailers purchasing tobacco products from wholesalers and/or manufacturers not licensed in Tennessee must report such activities on Schedule C using their cost price.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1011: Records and reports


Additional information about licensing in Tennessee is available under the Operating Your Business tab above.

For distribution of tobacco or vapor products by mail, Tennessee requires a distributor of tobacco or vapor products to obtain from the addressee an affirmative statement that the person is 18 years of age or older.

Tennessee also requires the distributor to inform the recipient that the person is strictly prohibited from distributing any tobacco or vapor product to any person under 18 years of age. 

Tenn. Code. § 39-17-1504: Sale or distribution to minors unlawful; proof of age requirement

Tennessee imposes a tax on every dealer or distributor of tobacco products for the privilege of selling tobacco products in the state. The tobacco tax is declared to be a levy on the consumer, and the consumer will be liable for the tax and subject to the incidence of the tax. Distributors must add the amount of tobacco taxes levied to the price of other tobacco products, and the distributor may state the amount of the taxes separately from the price of the tobacco products on all price display signs, sales or delivery slips, bills, and statements that advertise or indicate the price of the tobacco products.

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1002: Tax imposed

Tenn. Code. § 67-4-1003: Tax levied on consumer


Additional information about taxation in Tennessee, including information about tax rates, filings, and forms, is available under the Taxation and Definitions tabs above.


Disclaimer: PCA believes the information on this site is accurate. However, tobacco laws and regulations are subject to frequent change and court interpretation. Statements above are not intended as legal advice or restatement of law. PCA does not guarantee or assume responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of this information, nor that this information complies with all federal laws or the laws of all 50 states. Parties acknowledge and agree it is not the intention of PCA to provide specific legal advice for particular individuals, but rather to provide users with general information to better understand these issues. Users shall neither construe any of these materials as legal advice nor make this site the primary basis for any legal decisions made by or on your behalf and agree to release and waive any claims against PCA for the same. You shall consult with legal advisors concerning any contemplated individual decision.