FDA Announces New Rules to Curb Youth Smoking
Article date: March 19, 2010
By: Rebecca Viksnins Snowden
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced new rules making it harder for tobacco companies to target children and young teens. The new requirements, part of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by President Obama last June, restrict some types of sales and promotion of tobacco products to make them less accessible and attractive to kids.
“This ruling is a critical piece of a coordinated effort to save lives, lower costs, and reduce suffering from heart disease, cancer, and other tobacco-related illness,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We’re addressing a larger public health effort to prevent our children from becoming the next generation of Americans to die early from tobacco-related disease. This is a great step toward a healthier America.”
Starting on June 22, 2010, the new rules prohibit the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 18, end the sale of cigarette packs that contain less than 20 cigarettes, and prohibit the distribution of free samples. The rules will also prohibit tobacco companies from selling branded products such as T-shirts and caps and from sponsoring sporting and other cultural events.
The FDA will work closely with states and retailers to educate them about the new requirements. Manufacturers and retailers who don't comply will face stiff penalties.
Smoking among youth today
Despite previous bans, tobacco companies have still found ways to reach kids. In fact, according to the FDA, every day more than 4000 kids under 18 try their first cigarette, and more than 1000 become daily smokers. And research has shown that 90% of adult smokers started before the age of 18.
“Many of these kids will become addicted before they are old enough to understand the risks and will ultimately die too young. This is an avoidable personal tragedy for those kids and their families as well as a preventable public health disaster for our country,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD. “Putting these restrictions in place is necessary to protect the health of those we care most about: our children.”
While the number of younger Americans who smoke had been going down since the 1990s, those numbers have recently leveled off, according to Sebelius. By imposing uniform standards for the sale, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products, the FDA hopes to see those rates go down again.
Other tobacco control initiatives
This ruling is the latest in a series of tobacco control efforts resulting from the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. As part of that legislation, cigarette makers are already required to disclose product ingredients to the FDA. It has also imposed a ban on the sale of fruit- and candy-flavored cigarettes, which often appeal to kids and teenagers.
The American Cancer Society's advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), worked tirelessly in support of the bill.
For more information about what the FDA is doing to enforce the bill, click here. To learn more about tobacco use among children and teens, see Child and Teen Tobacco Use. To find out what your lawmakers are doing to lessen the impact of tobacco in your community, visit the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.
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