New Fed Rules Restrict Tobacco Marketing to Youth

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New restrictions meant to make cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products less appealing and less accessible to youths take effect June 22.

Although all states prohibit the sale of tobacco to minors, the new rules – enacted as part of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act – lift the prohibition to the federal level. Oversight and enforcement falls to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and violators face sanctions that range from fines to criminal prosecution.

Under the new restrictions:

• Retailers are prohibited from selling individual cigarettes or packs of less than 20.

• Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco may not be sold through vending machines or self-service displays, except in places off-limits to minors.

• Ads in teen magazines or similar publications may only use black text on a white background, not color.

• Manufacturers are prohibited from selling non-tobacco items, such as T-shirts and novelty items, bearing the brand names of a cigarette or smokeless tobacco product.

• Tobacco companies are prohibited from sponsorship of athletic, musical, artistic or other social or cultural events.

Joel Spivak, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says the new restrictions may not make much of a difference individually, but collectively should drive down youth smoking – a trend he says began following the tobacco prevention programs funded by the 1998 tobacco lawsuit settlements with most of the states.

“All of these together will have a dampening effect,” Spivak says.

The FDA says that every day, close to 4,000 youths under the age of 18 try their first cigarettes, and that roughly one-fourth of these youths become daily smokers.

For more information about the new federal rule go to http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/ProtectingKidsfromTobacco/default.htm.