On September 10, 2014, FDA announced that we issued Warning Letters to four online retailers because minors were able to purchase regulated tobacco products from their websites. One way FDA monitors for compliance is to check whether youth ages 16-17 are able to successfully buy tobacco products from a retailer. Federal regulations prohibit retailers, including online retailers, from selling these products to any person under the age of 18.
FDA's tobacco compliance and enforcement program ensures that industry and retailers follow existing laws designed to protect public health. While progress has been made in reducing the burden of tobacco use on the nation, it's imperative that we end youth access to tobacco products. FDA inspects tobacco retailers and conducts routine surveillance of websites to ensure that retailers are not selling tobacco products to minors.
While most retailers are actively working to keep tobacco out of the hands of kids, some continue to violate the law. As of August 1, 2014, FDA has conducted more than 324,000 inspections of tobacco product retail establishments and issued more than 17,600 Warning Letters to retailers for violating the law. More than half of those Warning Letters were for selling tobacco products to minors.
To help retailers understand and comply with tobacco regulations, FDA provides educational webinars and guidance documents. Additionally, FDA has created several retailer training videos, including a new video "Always Comply with Tobacco Sale ID Requirements," to assist retailers in better understanding and subsequently better educating their employees about requirements in the Tobacco Control Act.
The public also plays an important role in protecting America's youth from the dangers of tobacco use. If you suspect a potential violation of our youth access restrictions, you can file a complaint with FDA by filling out a form or calling FDA's Center for Tobacco Products at 1-877-CTP-1373.