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FDA Takes Anti-Smoking Show on the Road

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Mission Valley theater.
RALEIGH — The Food and Drug Administration has visitedRaleigh and 24 other cities in an effort to explain its new regulationsaimed at keeping children and cigarettes away from each other. The newrules take effect at the end of February and Wednesday's Raleigh satelliteforum was arranged to answer questions from retailers and parents.

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

About 130 people viewed a national teleconference at the Mission ValleyTheater. Raleigh retail clerk Ann Pablo says asking for identification isnothing new to her, her store cards young people for alcohol and tobaccopurchases.

Participants seemed most concerned about how the FDA will enforce itsnew rules. Pablo wants to know who will be penalized when the rules arebroken. She says it's not fair to place all the responsibility onretailers.

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

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

In August other rules will take effect regarding the display oftobacco-related promotional materials. Tobacco retailers will have to getrid of many signs, self-serve display racks and giveaway items such asclothing.

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

Clerks also say that if the rules are here to stay, retailers andparents 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-freenumber posted in stores. That number is 1-888-FDA-4KIDS or1-888-332-45437.

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