In a press release, last week, the US FDA Centre for Tobacco Control published a detailed list of retailers who infringed the Federal low that prevents underage sale of Tobacco products. The retailers have been issued a letter for selling newly regulated tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, e-liquids. Warning letters are the first step before before the agency pursues enforcement actions, including civil money penalties and no tobacco sale orders.
Among the infringers are several vape shops but also many well popular stores like Walgreens, 7-eleven and gas stations (Exxon, Chevron, Mobil).
The letter pinpoints the responsibility of the owners to ensure that tobacco products and all related labelling and/or advertising on official websites (including e-commerce, social networking, or search engine websites), in any other media, and in any retail establishments comply with each applicable provision of the FD&C Act and FDA’s implementing regulations. The owner is then asked to immediately correct the violation that is referenced by the FDA, as well as violations that are the same as or similar to the one stated by the agency, and take any necessary actions to bring tobacco products into compliance with the FD&C Act.
A written response to the warning letter is expected by the agency within 15 working days from the date of receipt.
However, as noticed by Brad Rodu, the compliance with regulations aiming at protecting the youth from buying tobacco products averages 88.5% of the inspected stores (about 150,000 per year), over the last two years, 10% have been notified by letter and only 2% have been fined. These results are in reasonable agreement with those provided by the FDA and place the USA in a very good position for tobacco compliance and enforcement even if the the blogger recalls that the percentage of infringers should be zero.
“We’re helping protect the health of America’s youth by enforcing restrictions that make it illegal to sell tobacco products to minors – including e-cigarettes, e-liquids and cigars. Retailers play a vital role in keeping harmful and addictive tobacco products out of the hands of children and we urge them to take that responsibility seriously,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.