Bloomberg News

FDA Sends Letters to Retailers About Child Tobacco Sales

November 17, 2011

(Updates with FDA quote in third paragraph.)

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent 1,200 warning letters to tobacco retailers about violations, mostly related to the sale of cigarettes to children, the agency said today in a statement.

Civil penalties may be imposed if stores continue to flout the law on selling cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to minors, the agency said today in a statement.

An estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke yearly in the U.S., and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by tobacco use, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. It’s also been linked to lung, larynx, esophareal and oral cancers, the CDC Web Site.

“It should worry every parent that 20 percent of U.S. high school student smoke cigarettes,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in the statement. “For many young people, that first cigarette or use of smokeless tobacco will lead to a lifetime of addiction.”

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed by President Barack Obama, by gives the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products to prevent use by minors and to reduce the impact on public health. It also lets the FDA contract with states for compliance checks on retailers.

Most of the 27,500 stores inspected so far were found to be in compliance with the law for tobacco sales, the FDA said.

More than 80 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 18, Hamburg said.

--Editors: Chris Staiti, Reg Gale.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Staiti at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at

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