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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Tobacco Products

Retailers That Don't Sell Tobacco to Kids Help Build Stronger Communities

November 10, 2011

Image of a happy retailer.

For many kids, their first cigarette leads to a lifetime of addiction. With some 20 percent of U.S. high school students smoking regularly, keeping tobacco out of kids’ hands can have a huge impact on our nation’s health.

Retailers are on the front lines of protecting our kids from tobacco. FDA works with state contractors to conduct compliance checks—ensuring that tobacco retailers comply with federal laws, including the ban of cigarette, cigarette tobacco, and smokeless tobacco sales to youth.

In 2011, FDA awarded contracts to 38 states and jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, to conduct tobacco retailer inspections checking for, among other things, compliance with requirements related to:

    • Age and ID verification
    • Labeling and advertising of smokeless tobacco products
    • Restrictions on the sale of single cigarettes
    • Ban on certain candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes
    • Prohibited self service displays and vending machines

As of November 2011, more than 27,500 inspections have been completed, and the vast majority of retailers are complying with the laws aimed at protecting kids.  However, when inspectors find violations, FDA takes action. FDA has issued more than 1,200 warning letters to retailers who sold tobacco to kids or had other compliance violations.

Most retailers inspected by FDA have been found to be in compliance with the law. But we still have our work cut out for us – especially when minors can walk in to some retail locations and buy deadly tobacco products.

Check Out Neighborhood Retailers

You can search our database of inspection reports for tobacco retailers near you to see how your neighborhood checks out. 

Please let your local establishments know you appreciate their efforts to comply and protect our kids. Knowing which stores are complying with the law can help you support stronger communities.

Break the Chain of Tobacco Addiction. Help protect kids by pledging to support responsible retailing. Take the pledge.

Pledge to Protect Kids

Everyone from teachers, coaches, and physicians, to retailers, parents, public health professionals and religious leaders plays a role in keeping tobacco out of the hands of youth. 

Take the pledge to protect our nation’s youth by supporting retailers who follow the law— refusing to sell tobacco to youth and helping break the chain of tobacco addiction.

More Information

View all past FDA Tobacco feature articles here

Posted November 10, 2011