FDA Takes Action to Protect Kids from Tobacco Addiction

(March 19, 2010)

On March 19 the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products published a new rule to protect kids from tobacco addiction and premature death from tobacco use. The new rule, which becomes effective on June 22 – exactly one year after President Obama signed the historic Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law -- prohibits a wide range of sales, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to youth.

"We applaud the FDA's quick and decisive action in limiting tobacco companies from targeting a new generation of young smokers," said Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "Every day, 3,600 American children under 18 try a cigarette for the first time.  Almost 1,100 of them go on to become regular smokers - tragically replacing the over 392,000 tobacco industry customers who die of their addiction every year. We hope this action by the FDA will be the first of many to finally begin to reverse this trend."

This rule will eliminate some of the tobacco industry's favorite tactics to attract and addict youth to their deadly products, reducing youth exposure to tobacco marketing and advertising.  For example, teens will no longer be offered tobacco-branded souvenirs, like baseball caps, at special events, and they won't be able to sneak cigarettes from vending machines.

Wide Range of Prohibitions
The new rule prohibits the sale, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to youth in many ways, including:

Sale and Distribution Regulations

  • Creates a new partnership between federal & state governments to enforce prohibition of sales of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to people younger than 18.
  • Prohibits the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in vending machines, self-service displays.

Marketing Regulations

  • Prohibits tobacco brand name sponsorship of any athletic, musical, or other social or cultural event, or any team or entry in those events.
  • Prohibits gifts or other items in exchange for buying cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products.
  • Requires that audio ads use only words with no music or sound effects.
  • Prohibits the sale or distribution of items, such as hats and tee shirts, with tobacco brands or logos.

How You Can Help
We can all play a role in saving kids from tobacco addiction. 

  • Report violations: After June 22, 2010, report violations of the new rule to the FDA by calling 1-877-CTP-1373 and pressing #4 to report a violation.
  • Learn more: http://www.fda.gov/protectingkidsfromtobacco
  • Help young smokers quit: The American Lung Association offers many tools and resources to help young smokers quit, including Not On Tobacco (N-O-T). Visit our stop smoking page to learn more.
  • Get involved: Tell the FDA how important it is that they crack down on Big Tobacco's marketing to kids by clicking here
  • Make a donation: There are a number of ways to give, and they all support the American Lung Association's fight for healthy lungs and healthy air.