March 19, 2010

FDA to Crackdown on Tobacco Sales, Cigarette Ads

Utilizing new oversight powers granted to them by President Barack Obama last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued a new, stricter set of guidelines governing the sale and marketing of tobacco.

The new regulations, posted on the FDA's official website Thursday and effective June 22, prohibit the sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to anyone under the age of 18, the sale of cigarette packages with fewer than 20 cigarettes, and the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in vending machines and similar self-service mechanisms. It also bans distribution of free cigarette samples and limits access to samples of smokeless tobacco products.

In addition, the new guidelines prohibit tobacco manufacturers from sponsoring sporting, musical, or cultural events, as well as any participating individuals or teams. It prohibits incentive programs that would provide free items or gifts in exchange for buying cigarettes or smokeless tobacco goods. Furthermore, merchandise and clothing items branded with tobacco logos or names are now prohibited by law, and audio advertisements promoting tobacco products are no longer allowed to use music or sound effects to enhance their quality.

"This ruling is a critical piece of a coordinated effort to save lives, lower costs, and reduce suffering from heart disease, cancer and other tobacco-related illness," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a Thursday press release. "Today, we're addressing a larger public health effort to prevent our children from becoming the next generation of Americans to die early from tobacco-related disease. This is a great step toward a healthier America."

"Every day nearly 4,000 kids under 18 try their first cigarette and 1,000 kids under 18 become daily smokers. Many of these kids will become addicted before they are old enough to understand the risks and will ultimately die too young," added FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg.

"This is an avoidable personal tragedy for those kids and their families as well as a preventable public health disaster for our country," she continued. "Putting these restrictions in place is necessary to protect the health of those we care most about: our children."


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