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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Tobacco Products

Letter to Retailers on Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco

March 19, 2010

Dear Retailer:

On March 19, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will publish a new rule that directly affect your business if you sell cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products. The new rule, titled Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco to Protect Children and Adolescents, is authorized by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on June 22, 2009. The rule restricts the sale, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products to make them less accessible and attractive to kids.

As a retailer, you play an important role in protecting children and adolescents from the risks associated with using tobacco products. 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 of tobacco related diseases. This is an avoidable personal tragedy for those kids and their families as well as a preventable public health disaster for our country. As a retailer, you are uniquely positioned to help reduce underage access to tobacco products.

We want to work with you and the retail community to help you comply with the new rules and protect kids from tobacco. In the coming months, we will host listening sessions, issue written guidance, maintain an up-to-date Web page with the latest information, reach out to industry associations, and publish multimedia resources, such as podcasts, webinars, and educational videos.

We look forward to working closely with you and providing you the information you need to help prevent our children from becoming the next generation of Americans to die early from tobacco-related diseases.

The new requirements will take effect on June 22, 2010 and FDA will begin enforcing them at that time. To ensure compliance, unannounced inspections of retail establishments will be conducted. Failure to comply with the new requirements may lead to enforcement action, including warning letters, civil money penalties, and orders prohibiting the future sale of tobacco products.

If you have any questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our toll-free number is 1-877-CTP-1373 and our Web site address is http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/ProtectingKidsfromTobacco/default.htm.