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FDA to Regulate Tobacco Retailer Training Programs

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began tobacco compliance checks, many retailers -- including convenience store operators -- have been asking if the agency has an approved training program. Now, the FDA is moving closer to establishing guidelines.

The agency today published a notice in the Federal Register announcing a final guidance for the industry titled, "Tobacco Retailer Training Programs." This guidance document is intended to assist retailers in implementing training programs for employees to learn about and comply with the federal laws and regulations restricting the sale and distribution of, and youth access to, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, as well as the advertising and promotion of these tobacco products, according to the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act doesn't require retailers to implement training programs. However, the statute does provide for lower civil money penalties for violations of access, sale and distribution, and advertising and promotion restrictions for retailers who have implemented a training program that complies with standards developed by the FDA for such programs.

The agency intends to release regulations establishing standards for approved retailer training programs. In the interim, however, for retailers who wish to implement training programs, the guidance document explains:

  • Definitions;
  • Recommendations for elements to be included in a retailer training program;
  • Recommended hiring and management practices;
  • The civil money penalties that may be assessed against retailers for violations of restrictions; and
  • How the penalty structure differs for retailers with and without approved training programs.
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