FDA: Ban on free tobacco samples includes e-cigs

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized guidance Wednesday to make clear that it’s ban on free samples of tobacco products includes electronic cigarettes.

The FDA said in the 10-page guidance document that its ban on free samples of tobacco products applies to any tobacco product that is subject to FDA regulation, including components and parts of tobacco products like “e-liquids” and the refillable cartridges for electronic cigarettes.

The agency finalized the regulation banning free samples in March 2010. At the time, the rule only applied to cigarettes, including roll-your-own tobacco; cigarette tobacco; and smokeless tobacco products, but the agency extended its authority to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in August 2016.


FDA noted in its regulation at the time that free samples of e-cigarettes were being distributed at music festivals and motorsport events making them easily and freely accessible to children. 

Under the guidance issued Wednesday, tobacco product manufacturers, distributors and retailers can still sell products at a discount, accept coupons and offer two-for-one deals. They cannot, however, give out products in exchange for a consumer’s contact information or for signing up for a mailing list.

“One of the most important provisions to help reduce youth access to tobacco products is the prohibition on free samples of tobacco products,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

“With more youth using e-cigarettes than any other tobacco product, it’s critical that manufacturers and retailers understand how we intend to enforce this provision,” he said.

This story was updated at 10:40 a.m.


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