Every day nearly 4,000 kids under 18 try their first cigarette and 1,000 kids under 18 become daily smokers. Virtually all new users of tobacco products are under the minimum legal age to purchase such products. Many of these kids will become addicted before they are old enough to understand the risks and will ultimately die too young of tobacco-related diseases.
FDA is working to protect the health of America’s children and ultimately reduce the burden of illness and death caused by tobacco use by enforcing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) and Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco to Protect Children and Adolescents. This regulation, which took effect on June 22, 2010, limits the sale, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to protect the health of children and adolescents.
FDA works to inform retailers about these laws through the Break the Chain of Tobacco Addition campaign. FDA will also host a series of Compliance Training for Tobacco Retailers, to be held on March 29, April 26, May 18, June 28, July 26, and September 20, 2011, to provide retailers with training on federal tobacco regulations.
Last year, in order to help enforce these laws, FDA awarded contracts to 15 states to assist in inspecting retail establishments that sell cigarettes and/or smokeless tobacco products. In the upcoming years, FDA plans to award enforcement contracts to all states and U.S. territories to assist with enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act.
The goal of the State Enforcement Program is to improve public health and to protect young people by bringing enforcement action against retailers who violate the law. State inspectors under these FDA enforcement contracts conduct compliance check inspections to determine if retailers comply with the law, including whether the retailer:
- sells a tobacco product to a minor;
- requests proper identification;
- sells prohibited flavored cigarettes or individual cigarettes; and
- sells tobacco products in a self-service display, like a vending machine, which can be accessed by minors.
We appreciate the efforts and commitment of all states who have contracted with FDA to assist in enforcing the Tobacco Control Act and FDA regulation. More than 95 Warning Letters have been issued to retailers for illegal sales of cigarettes and/or smokeless tobacco to minors. FDA’s website posts Warning Letters that have been issued as well as a list of retailers that have been inspected and where no violations were observed.
We encourage anyone who is aware of retailers who may violate the Tobacco Control Act to report violations to FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products through our website, by email or by phone (1-877-CTP-1373).
Director, Office of Compliance and Enforcement
I am pleased to announce that many portions of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) website are now available in Spanish. This new resource for the Spanish-speaking community will provide key information to our stakeholders in our common goal of reducing the tremendous toll of illness and death from tobacco use through FDA’s new role in tobacco product regulation. By increasing access to our content to the Spanish-speaking public we not only increase the reach of our message, but also make further in-roads into communities that play a key role in tackling this important public health issue.
Over the last several months, I’ve heard from many stakeholders in a number of ways about the overall need for CTP to provide key tobacco product information in different languages. This was echoed by a request from a woman named Sarah who submitted a request for low-literacy handouts in multiple languages to our CTP Tobacco Ideas Forum (which is a novel way for the public to submit a thought and then have it voted on by other stakeholders). Input like this from the general public, combined with what we’ve learned through many other communication channels, has led to the launch of this Spanish-version website. The first of several plain language handouts similar to what Sarah, and many others have requested, as well as a variety of free resources and tools are now available. These include:
- The Break the Chain of Tobacco Addiction retailer education campaign web area, which includes translated printed materials that can be ordered online;
- An digital timeline of the Tobacco Control Act, which highlights past achievements and upcoming deadlines required by the Act;
- Multiple ways to connect with the us through social media;
- Federal resources on youth tobacco prevention, effective treatment for nicotine addiction, and tobacco research and statistics;
- And much more!
I encourage you to check out www.fda.gov/tabaco and let us know what you think. I also hope you will contribute to the CTP Tobacco Ideas Forum. We are listening and want your ideas to improve our efforts to effectively disseminate information about FDA tobacco regulations and to develop innovative ways to educate the public about the dangers of tobacco products use.
–Lawrence R. Deyton, M.S.P.H., M.D., Director, FDA Center for Tobacco Products
Materials Available from FDA Basics Webinar on FDA’s role in ensuring the safety of the nation’s blood supply
Did you miss the FDA Basics webinar about FDA’s vital role in ensuring the safety of the nation’s blood supply? You can learn about FDA’s five overlapping layers of blood safety and review rules that are designed to make sure we have a safe and available blood supply, including rules related to donor screening and testing of blood for blood-borne infectious agents.
You can also find materials from past FDA Basics webinars.