This week, FDA began issuing warning letters to retailers for improper sale of newly deemed tobacco products.

  • On August 8, 2016, FDA’s Deeming Rule went into effect.  Although many parts of the regulations will not be enforced for months or years, several important provisions are active and impacting industry.  Specifically, FDA is now inspecting retailers of newly deemed covered tobacco products, such as cigars or e-liquids, for compliance with youth access restrictions.  On September 15, 2016, FDA announced it issued warning letters to 55 retailers for the sale of newly-regulated tobacco products to minors.
  • Over the last several years, CTP has developed a nationwide compliance check inspection program.  FDA inspectors are commissioned through contracts with states and third-party contractors to conduct undercover buy and advertising and labeling inspections at tobacco retailers.  FDA reviews the evidence and retailers observed violating the youth access restriction provisions of the Tobacco Control Act and accompanying regulations are first issued a warning letter.
  • If inspectors observe retailers committing multiple violations within one to two years, tobacco product retailers may receive civil money penalties, which can now reach up to $11,002.  If a retailer is cited for five or more repeated violations within 36 months, they may receive a no-tobacco-sale order, which start at 30 days and escalate to a permanent prohibition on the sale of tobacco products.
  • To comply with FDA’s tobacco sale restrictions, retailers should always check photo identification of anyone under age 27 who requests to purchase a tobacco product.  Retailers should never sell tobacco products to customers under age 18.  FDA’s instructions regarding these and other provisions that apply to retailers are available here.