FDA Wants to Work With, Not Against Tobacco Retail Community

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FDA Wants to Work With, Not Against Tobacco Retail Community

By Melissa Kress, Convenience Store News - 04/27/2016

LAS VEGAS — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was tasked with regulating the tobacco industry in 2009 and the agency recognizes that working with the retail community is a key factor in that task. 

"I and my colleagues at the FDA take the dialogue with the industry seriously," said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). "The dialogue, and the level of mutual respect that comes with the dialogue, with the retail community has to continue."

His comments came as he offered a sneak peek of the agency's retailer education materials at the 2016 NATO Show, hosted by the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) in Las Vegas last week. The campaign, "This Is Our Watch," will debut later this year, although Zeller declined to provide any further details. 

According to the CTP chief, the FDA is aware of the connection between youth tobacco use and social sources, and it's exploring appropriate messages to tackle that connection.

"It's not just about retailers when it comes to youth access. There is room for improvement," he said.

The FDA is also conducting ongoing retailer-focused research, Zeller shared. Included among those studies are:

  • The effect of tobacco power wall displays at the point-of-service (POS). This study will continue through summer 2017.
  • The effect of POS marketing on smoking cessation for adults. This study was recently completed, but the FDA has yet to review the findings.
  • The impact of retail tobacco advertising on youth smoking. This study is ongoing.

The National Association of Tobacco Outlets held the 2016 NATO Show from April 19-21. It was the association's last, as it shifts its total focus to tobacco legislative and regulatory issues.