June 18, 2019
“Retailers play a critical role in keeping harmful and addictive tobacco products like e-cigarettes out of the hands of America’s youth. Unfortunately, there are retailers who continue to illegally sell these products to kids, which is especially concerning since tobacco use is almost always initiated and established during adolescence,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. “As part of our Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, we have and will continue to use our authorities to forcefully confront the youth e-cigarette epidemic that is jeopardizing the years of progress we’ve made in combatting youth tobacco use. This includes ensuring retailers comply with rules aimed at restricting youth access to e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. Retailers must step up to the public health challenge we’re currently facing by knowing and following the law, and we encourage them to use the free tools from the FDA like this digital calendar, as we all work together to prevent underage sales.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that a new digital age verification calendar is available as part of the agency’s “This is Our Watch” voluntary retailer education program, which is designed to prevent and reduce sales of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors. As part of this voluntary program, the digital calendar, which makes it easier to verify a consumer’s age, is being mailed to retailers across the U.S this month and will also be available to order for free to retailers from the Center for Tobacco Products Exchange Lab. Retailers can digitally set the minimum age on the calendar, as appropriate for their location. While the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco products is 18, in many localities and states, the age is higher. The FDA developed the digital, programmable calendars in response to feedback from retailers and state tobacco control officials for additional resources to educate their staff on how to comply with federal laws and regulations.
The digital calendars will replace the popular paper calendars the FDA initially distributed starting in November 2017 through the “This is Our Watch” program. In addition to the digital calendar, a full toolkit of resources is available to order or download for free including posters, stickers, flyers and more. The materials also emphasize the retailer’s role in protecting the nation’s youth from the harms of tobacco use. The agency has also launched a voluntary smartphone application, “FDA Age Calculator,” designed to help tobacco retailers comply with age restriction laws.
The retailer education program is designed to complement the FDA’s tobacco compliance and enforcement efforts, which aim to protect public health by upholding federal tobacco laws and regulations, including not selling tobacco products to anyone under age 18 and checking the photo ID of everyone under age 27 who attempts to purchase any tobacco product. As of April 30, 2019, as part of its efforts to protect youth, the FDA has completed more than 1,070,000 inspections of tobacco product retail establishments, issued more than 86,200 warning letters to retailers for violating the law, initiated more than 21,400 civil money penalty cases, and issued more than 150 No-Tobacco-Sale Order Complaints.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.