New Tobacco Law Aims at Youth Smoking

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By Megan A. Conlan

The new federal law that will allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the tobacco industry also reintroduces advertising restrictions aimed at reducing tobacco use among youths.

“I was one of these teenagers, and so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time,” President Barack Obama said in signing the legislation at the White House.

Among the key provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act:

• Tobacco companies cannot advertise within 1,000 feet of a school or playground area, including public parks with baseball diamonds, basketball courts, or equipment such as swings and seesaws.

• Outdoor tobacco advertisements, as well as ads in publications with predominantly teen readers, will be limited to black text on white backgrounds and cannot include images. These regulations will not apply to advertisements in facilities where tobacco vending machines are allowed or in adult publications for which underage readers make up 15 percent or less of the audience.

• Flavored cigarettes are banned, except for menthol.

• The federal government will study the health implications of raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products, which is 18 in most states.

• The Department of Health and Human Services will create a plan to enforce restrictions on advertising cigarettes to youth.

• Tobacco companies cannot distribute free samples of cigarettes or other tobacco products. Free samples of some smokeless tobacco products are allowed in areas considered a “qualified adult-only facility.” All giveaways are banned at sporting and entertainment events, as are brand sponsorships of those events.