Using new powers, FDA slaps retailers with tobacco warnings

Federal regulators announced Friday they used new powers to slap Mississippi retailers with warning letters after state investigators found they sold tobacco products to minors.
The Food and Drug Administration issued 25 warnings over the past three months to retailers for violation of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The law empowers the FDA to issue warnings to retailers that sell a tobacco product to a minor, fail to request proper identification, sell prohibited flavored cigarettes and have self-service displays accessible to minors.

Mississippi was the first of 15 states last year to receive FDA contracts to assist in inspecting retailers that sell tobacco products.

The warning letters instruct retailers to submit a correction plan within 15 days. Retailers can be banned from selling tobacco if they fail to correct the violation, and they are also subject to product seizure, injunction or fines.

This marks the FDA's second major tobacco announcement this week. On Wednesday, the agency announced that tobacco products introduced or changed since Feb. 15, 2007, must be "substantially equivalent" to products sold before then.