The FDA has released its final rules regarding the sale of tobacco. Retailers will need to be in compliance with these rules by June 22, 2010.
Today’s action by FDA restricts the sale, distribution and use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, including provisions that:
• Prohibits the sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to people younger than 18.
• Prohibits the sale of cigarette packages with fewer than 20 cigarettes.
• Prohibits the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in vending machines, self-service displays, or other impersonal modes of sales, except in very limited situations.
• Restricts free samples of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products.
• Prohibits tobacco brand name sponsorship of any athletic, musical, or other social or cultural event, or any team or entry in those events.
• Prohibits gifts or other items in exchange for buying cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products.
• Requires that audio ads use only words with no music or sound effects.
• Prohibits the sale or distribution of items, such as hats and tee shirts, with tobacco brands or logos.
The rule would also require that most tobacco advertising and labeling must be in black text on white background. This requirement, however, is currently the subject of litigation. In a decision which is on appeal, a District Court in Kentucky has stopped this provision from going into effect.
In a related action, the FDA is seeking public comment on whether restrictions on outdoor advertising are necessary to protect youth from tobacco use and, if so, how to do so within the framework of the law. The 1996 rule banned tobacco product outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of schools, parks or playgrounds. However, a similar prohibition was deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The FDA has asked for comment on the current state of the research and potential alternative approaches. Public comment on that provision will be open for 60 days, until May 18.