The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put 15 U.S. retailers on notice for allegedly selling tobacco products to minors. Among the accused retailers were Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger, 7-Eleven, Family Dollar, BP and Citgo, which FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb is now hoping to get more information from regarding each of their policies regarding selling tobacco products.
Among the top violators was Walgreens, which Gottlieb has requested a meeting be set up between the FDA and its management team. According to FDA reports, nearly22 percent of Walgreens’ locations were inspected and found to be illegally selling tobacco products to minors. Walgreens responded to the request with an acceptance of the opportunity to meet with the FDA and stated that it has a zero-tolerance policy in regards to selling tobacco products to minors. In a press release, Gottlieb reiterated that Walgreens and other retailers have an obligation to prevent tobacco products from being sold to minors, not only legally but also in regards to public health.
In addition to warning letters to these 15 retailers, the FDA also has issued letters to more than 40 different companies that it is accusing of selling e-cigarette products without pre-market approval from the FDA. Due to the 2016 Deeming Rule, all manufacturers of covered products, including e-cigarettes, must submit their products to the FDA for review and must receive approval before they can selling them. Some of the warning letters sent out also accuse companies of selling e-cigarettes without nicotine content warning labels.
In the past year, the FDA has been aggressively enforcing the regulation of the e-cigarette market after seeing what it calls an “epidemic” growing among teens who are vaping and becoming addicted to tobacco products through nicotine exposure. The FDA has sent out warning letters to retailers and manufacturers, calling out their marketing practices and attempting to curb teen’s use of e-cigarettes and tobacco products through regulation. This week, it was announced that Gottlieb has resigned and will be vacating his position as FDA commissioner within the month, putting further enforcement in question until a new and permanent FDA commissioner has been named and confirmed.
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