Proposed restrictions would likely result in illicit markets where age verification is not recognized or practiced, NATO warns.
After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its proposed policies for restricting e-cig sales, banning flavors in cigars and banning menthol cigarettes, the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) responded in a statement:
“NATO shares the concern of the FDA regarding underage youth usage of electronic cigarettes, cigars and cigarettes.
Retailers that sell tobacco products follow responsible guidelines to comply with federal, state and local laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to underage individuals. In fact, the results of a FDA sponsored retail compliance check campaign this summer showed that 96.7% of more than 40,000 retailers did not sell an e-cigarette product to an undercover minor.
The proposed FDA policies of restricting electronic cigarette sales, banning flavors in cigars, and prohibiting the sale of menthol cigarettes will have unintended consequences. These restrictions would likely result in illicit markets for these products where age verification is not recognized nor practiced. Moreover, such illicit markets could become the new source of these tobacco products for underage individuals and undermine the efforts of law-abiding retailers to prevent the sale of tobacco to youth. A more prudent course of action is to allow licensed retailers that are charged with abiding by the law to continue to sell legal tobacco products to those adults of legal age and focus on enforcement of current laws related to the sale of tobacco products.
At the same time, NATO encourages the FDA to consider an educational effort to urge those of adult age not to purchase and provide tobacco products of any kind to underage individuals. With the FDA’s Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study confirming the high percentage of youth that rely on social sources for access to tobacco, the social sources problem should be a priority to further reduce underage use of tobacco products. Education and compliance with the law are the keys to achieving the goal of helping to prevent underage access to and use of tobacco products.”