Local News

FDA Takes Anti-Smoking Show on the Road

Posted February 18, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The Food and Drug Administration has visited Raleigh and 24 other cities in an effort to explain its new regulations aimed at keeping children and cigarettes away from each other. The new rules take effect at the end of February and Wednesday's Raleigh satellite forum was arranged to answer questions from retailers and parents.

The new rules are spelled out very plainly. Anyone under 27 years anywhere in the country, will be asked for photo identification if they try to buy tobacco products. No one under 18 will be allowed to purchase the products, and retailers will become the enforcers of the federal law, a fact they're not happy about.

About 130 people viewed a national teleconference at the Mission Valley Theater. Raleigh retail clerk Ann Pablo says asking for identification is nothing new to her, her store cards young people for alcohol and tobacco purchases.

Participants seemed most concerned about how the FDA will enforce its new rules. Pablo wants to know who will be penalized when the rules are broken. She says it's not fair to place all the responsibility on retailers.

It will, however, be retailers, and not the under-aged smokers, who pay a fine, and Fran Preston of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association says most don't think that's fair.

Retail clerk Tynise Ward says often she'll refuse to sell cigarettes to a minor. Later, an adult, often the parent, will come in and buy them for the teen who was denied the sale.

In August other rules will take effect regarding the display of tobacco-related promotional materials. Tobacco retailers will have to get rid of many signs, self-serve display racks and giveaway items such as clothing.

The teen tobacco ban does not apply to cigars or pipes. Some clerks say that is a mistake because teens are buying those products, too.

Clerks also say that if the rules are here to stay, retailers and parents will have to work together or the rules can't be enforced.

The FDA will rely on the public to report violations, using a toll-free number posted in stores. That number is 1-888-FDA-4KIDS or 1-888-332-45437.