The Food and Drug Administration recently finalized rules making it clear that e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine are, just like traditional cigarettes, not to be sold to people under the age of 18. Now the FDA is putting dozens of retailers on notice that they were caught allegedly selling these products to minors.
The FDA announced yesterday that it sent warning letters to 55 tobacco retailers — including custom vape shops, pharmacies like Walgreens, convenience stores like 7-Eleven and others — who were caught selling newly regulated tobacco products to minors.
“It’s clear from these initial compliance checks that there’s a need for strong federal enforcement of these important youth access restrictions,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement.
Under the new rules, which were announced in May, manufacturers and retailers will not be allowed to sell these products to people under 18 years of age; will be required to verify age by photo ID; will not be allowed to sell these products in vending machines; and can not distribute free samples.
The warning letters (here’s an example sent to a Washington 7-Eleven) were sent after the FDA completed compliance checks on major national retail chains, tobacco specialty stores and online retailers in August.
During the checks, the FDA says minors were routinely able to purchase some of these tobacco products in a variety of youth-appealing flavors, including bubble gum, cotton candy, and gummy bear.
The warning letters remind retailers of their obligations under the rule, and notify them that failure to correct the violations could result in civil penalties, no-tobacco-sale orders, or other action from the FDA.