The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the re-issuing of a final rule restricting the sale, distribution, and use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

The rule was originally issued and made effective on June 22nd, 2010, and is titled Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco To Protect Children and Adolescents.

This rule, which has the force and effect of law, is almost 3 years old now and sets new requirements relating to the sale and distribution of tobacco and tobacco products.

These rules are:

  • Prohibits the sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to people younger than 18.
  • Prohibits the sale of cigarette packages with fewer than 20 cigarettes.
  • Prohibits the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in vending machines, self-service displays, or other impersonal modes of sales, except in very limited situations.
  • Prohibits free samples of cigarettes and limits distribution of smokeless tobacco products.

The rule goes even further, with new requirements relating to the marketing, labeling, advertising, and promotion of tobacco and tobacco products.

These rules are:

  • Prohibits tobacco brand-name sponsorship of any athletic comment musical, or other social or cultural event, or any team or entry in those events.
  • Requires that audio ads use only words with no music or sound effects.
  • Prohibits the sale or distribution of items, such as hats and T-shirts, would cigarette and smokeless tobacco brands or logos.

This ruling affect deadly handcuffs tobacco producers in all areas relating to the sale, distribution, marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of their products, regardless of the fact that they all create cancer, according to the CDC.

This FDA ruling, which is described as a broad set of federal requirements designed to significantly curb access to and the appeal of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to children and adolescents in the United States, has been reissued for reasons unknown, as it was originally released March 18, 2010, and similar laws had already been on the books in regards to tobacco products.

HHS and the FDA were very adamant about keeping these products out of the hands of children, however.

“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 HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius. “Today, 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.”

Commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., was even tougher in her statement.

“Every day nearly 4000 kids under the age of 18 try their 1st cigarette and 1000 kids under the age of 18 become daily smokers. Many of these kids will become addicted before they are old enough to understand the risks and will ultimately died too young. This is unavoidable personal tragedy for those kids and their families as well as a preventable public health disaster for our country. Putting these restrictions in place is necessary to protect the health of those we care about: our children.”

This rule was originally written as a stand-alone regulation in the early 1990s by the FDA, and after being set aside by the Supreme Court of the United States, was then included as a key provision of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Tobacco manufacturers and retail distributors of tobacco products not in compliance with this rule will be subject to stern enforcement action by the federal government.

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