Tomorrow, June 22, 2019, marks the 10th anniversary of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act going into effect. The Tobacco Control Act (for short), gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products.
At Counter Tools, we believe that the Tobacco Control Act was an important piece of legislation for public health protection, especially for youth.
The Tobacco Control Act puts in place specific restrictions on marketing tobacco products to children and gives FDA authority to take further action in the future to protect public health. These provisions ban:
- sales to minors
- vending machine sales*
- the sale of packages of fewer than 20 cigarettes
- tobacco-brand sponsorships of sports and entertainment events or other social or cultural events
- free giveaways of sample cigarettes and brand-name non-tobacco promotional items
*except in adult-only facilities
Unfortunately, like with a lot of policies—both big and small, affecting local jurisdictions or entire nations—it wasn’t without unintended consequences. Combined with 1998’s Master Settlement Agreement (which was also wonderful for public health), an unintended consequence was that tobacco marketing and advertising was pushed even further into the retail environment, where tobacco companies now spend the overwhelming majority of their marketing dollars.
The problem of tobacco marketing at the point of sale isn’t going to go away now that the Tobacco Control Act has been around for a decade. In fact, it’s time for the FDA and their Center for Tobacco Products, which oversees the implementation of the law, to really dig in and address how the tobacco industry is preying on vulnerable populations through predatory marketing tactics at the point of sale.
The American Lung Association published a blueprint for how the FDA can—and must—use their authority to address the ongoing tobacco epidemic, including point of sale actions like removing ALL flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes from the marketplace. For more information on why removing flavored tobacco products—including and especially menthol—please take a look at our related content on CounterTobacco.org.
It’s important to celebrate and honor past victories; however, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we have a long way to go.