FDA Initiates Action against Retailers for Selling Tobacco to Minors
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has filed complaints initiating the first-ever No-Tobacco-Sale Order (NTSO) actions for a group of retailers who have repeatedly violated certain restrictions on the sale and distribution of tobacco products, including sales to minors.
"Retailers are the first line of defense in preventing the illegal sale of harmful and addictive products like cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to youth," Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, said in a written statement. "These enforcement actions will send a powerful message to all retailers that there are real consequences for repeatedly violating the law."
The FDA may pursue an NTSO against retailers that have a total of five or more repeated violations of those restrictions during compliance inspections within 36 months. The eight retailers included in the action are:
- Thais Mini Market LLC doing business as I and S Grocery Inc. in Newark, New Jersey
- C and C Supermarket LLC in Irvington, New Jersey
- Yemco Fuel Inc. and Nakeeb Hassan doing business as Marathon in Detroit, Michigan
- Kat Party Store Inc. doing business as Mr. Grocer Liquor Store in Detroit, Michigan
- Family Food Market Inc. in Detroit, Michigan
- Horizon Enterprises Inc. doing business as 95th Mobil and Food Mart in Chicago, Illinois
- Mon-Jan Corp. doing business as Monaghan's Pub in Baltimore, Maryland
- MFA Petroleum Company doing business as Break Time 3028 in Columbia, Missouri
After the FDA initiates an NTSO action by filing a complaint, a retailer has the ability to respond to the complaint, but must generally do so within 30 days. If an NTSO goes into effect, a retailer is responsible for ensuring that the establishment does not sell regulated tobacco products during the specified period.
The FDA provides compliance education and training opportunities to retailers and monitors compliance through surveillance, inspections and investigations. When violations are found, the agency generally issues warning letters and may take enforcement actions, including civil money penalties and NTSOs.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 amended the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) to give the FDA important new authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco products to protect the public health generally and to reduce tobacco use by minors.
While progress has been made in reducing the burden of tobacco use on the nation, each day in the U.S. more than 2,600 youth under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, and nearly 600 become daily cigarette smokers. Additionally, results of the National Youth Tobacco Survey show an estimated 4.6 million middle and high school students currently used a tobacco product in 2014.