Date: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 1997 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Food and Drug Administration, Larry
Bachorik (301) 443-1130, Linda Ruckel:(301) 827-3434, Consumer Affairs: (800) 532-4440
FDA Launches Nationwide Outreach to
Protect Children from Tobacco Products
The Food and Drug Administration today launched a nationwide outreach effort to retailers, parents and community leaders about the provisions of the FDA rule to protect children from tobacco products. The first provisions of the rule -- making 18 the age for the purchase of tobacco products nationwide and requiring photo IDs for anyone under 27 -- become effective Feb. 28, 1997.
As President Clinton said in his State of the Union address, "It's critical to protect our children by standing firm in our determination to ban the advertising and marketing of cigarettes that endanger their lives."
The FDA will hold 10 regional outreach meetings around the country in the next three weeks and one national televised outreach meeting, and has mailed to more than 400,000 retailers information about the provisions of the new FDA rule. In additio n, informational brochures for retailers and consumers will be distributed nationwide, and a toll-free telephone number (1-888-FDA-4KIDS) has been established for retailers to obtain further information.
In addition to the public education campaign, FDA will enforce the new rule by working with state and local officials in conducting spot checks of retail outlets. The nationwide toll-free telephone number has also been designed so that anyone can report potential violations. Retailers can be subject to penalties of $250 or more for selling tobacco products to minors.
"We are going to work with store owners to make sure they understand their responsibility not to sell tobacco products to anyone under 18," said Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala. "Our kids deserve a life free fr om the deadly disease that comes with using tobacco."
Nearly 3,000 young people become regular smokers each day, and nearly 1,000 of these children and adolescents will die early from their use of tobacco products.
"Nicotine addiction begins as a pediatric disease," said FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler, M.D. "We will be vigorous in our enforcement efforts: Our children deserve that." The regional meetings will be held between Feb. 11 and Feb. 27 in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and Seattle. On Feb. 18, the national teleconference will be televised in an additional 25 citie s around the country.