SILVER SPRING, Md. -- A new program to help retailers educate employees about age verification and the sale tobacco products is now available to retailers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP).
Designed to prevent and reduce tobacco sales to minors, the nationally distributed retailer-education program called This Is Our Watch includes a free set of resources to support retailers’ efforts to educate staff on enforcing federal laws and regulations. The materials, which the CTP designed using feedback from store owners and employees, include posters, register signage, regulation fact sheets, and an age-verification calendar with instructions for use. The free materials are being mailed to retailers and are also being made available online this month.
The FDA also has an age-calculator app that retailers can download in on Apple or Android smartphones.
This Is Our Watch is designed to complement the FDA’s tobacco-compliance and enforcement efforts, which aim to uphold federal tobacco laws, the CTP said in a press release. As of Oct. 1, 2017, the FDA has conducted more than 842,000 inspections of tobacco-product retail establishments, issued more than 64,000 warning letters to retailers for violating the law, initiated more than 15,400 civil-money penalty cases and issued more than 85 "no-tobacco-sale order" complaints.
According to the FDA and CTP, each day in the United States nearly 2,500 youth under age 18 smoke their first cigarette and more than 400 kids under age 18 become daily cigarette smokers. Tobacco use is almost always initiated and established during adolescence—close to 90% of established, adult smokers smoked their first cigarette by age 18—making early intervention critical, said CTP officials. For more information on the new educational program, click here.