Minimum age of seller/server requirements

Description of Strategy

Age of seller/server requirements establish the minimum age necessary for servers and clerks at alcohol or tobacco establishments to legally serve or sell alcohol or tobacco. State laws specify this requirement. In most states, seller/servers of alcohol must be at least 18-years old, but younger employees may be allowed to stock coolers with alcohol, bag purchased alcohol, or clear alcoholic beverages from tables. Minimum age of seller/server policies may reduce the likelihood that underage people will obtain alcohol from peers working at alcohol establishments (University of Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Program, 2009).

In Wyoming, the minimum legal age to serve alcohol is 21 except in restaurant areas where 18 year olds may serve alcohol. The term “serving” does not, however, include mixing or dispensing of alcoholic beverages (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 12-6-101, 2017).

Discussion of Effectiveness


Effectiveness of minimum age of seller/server requirements is unclear. Evidence is mixed for alcohol-related outcomes. Two studies found that the age of server was not significantly associated with sales of alcohol to underage youth (Britt, Toomey, Dunsmuir, & Wagenaar, 2006; Freisthler, Gruenewald, Treno, & Lee, 2003) and a systematic review (University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 2017) found insufficient evidence to determine if minimum age requirements for servers and sellers of alcohol reduce underage drinking. The review did find some evidence that underage sellers were more likely to sell alcohol to underage or intoxicated customers than sellers of legal drinking age.

However, other studies have found positive impacts of passing server/seller minimum age laws. A study found alcohol use and under-age student binge drinking rates were significantly lower for states that have laws establishing 21 as the minimum age to sell alcohol (Wechsler, Lee, Nelson, & Kuo, 2002). Another study found laws requiring a minimum age of 21 for alcohol servers were associated with lower alcohol fatalities (Fell, Scherer, Thomas, & Voas, 2016).


Evidence remains insufficient to evaluate tobacco outcomes.


Strategy Description

University of Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Program. (2009). Minimum age of seller requirements. Retrieved July 23, 2012

University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps (2017). Seller/Server minimum age. Retrieved October 23, 2017

Wyoming Statute Annotated § 12-6-101 (2017). Retrieved October 25, 2017

Evidence Base

Britt, H., Toomey, T. L., Dunsmuir, W., & Wagenaar, A. C. (2006). Propensity for and correlates of alcohol sales to underage youth. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 50(2), 25–42.

DiFranza, J. R., & Coleman, M. (2001). Sources of tobacco for youths in communities with strong enforcement of youth access laws. Tobacco Control, 10(4), 323–328. doi:10.1136/tc.10.4.323

Fell, J, Scherer, M, Thomas, S., & Voas, R. (2016). Assess the impact of twenty underage drinking laws. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77, 249-260.

Freisthler, B., Gruenewald, P. J., Treno, A. J., & Lee, J. (2003). Evaluating alcohol access and the alcohol environment in neighborhood areas. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 27(3), 477–484. doi:10.1097/01.ALC.0000057043.04199.B7

Wechsler, H., Lee, J., Nelson, T. F., & Kuo, M. (2002). Underage college students’ drinking behavior, access to alcohol, and the influence of deterrence policies. Journal of American College Health, 50(5), 223.

Futher Reading

Alcohol Policy Information System, National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Underage drinking: Minimum ages for on-premises servers and bartenders.

Forster, J. L., Komro, K. A., & Wolfson, M. (1996). Survey of city ordinances and local enforcement regarding commercial availability of tobacco to minors in Minnesota, United States. Tobacco Control, 5(1), 46–51. doi:10.1136/tc.5.1.46