FDA regulations prohibit retailers, distributors, and manufacturers from distributing fee samples of tobacco products to consumers except through a sales transaction that involves a consumer paying money for a tobacco product. Providing a sample in exchange for information such as a telephone number or email address is also prohibited. Certain price promotions such as “buy one, get one” or “two for the price of one” does not violate the free sample ban and is allowed. Also, tobacco products can be sold at a discounted price and do not violate the free sample ban. Coupons can also be redeemed that take cents or dollars off the price of a tobacco product to allow it to be sold at a discount but “buy one and a receive a coupon redeemable later for a free tobacco product” is prohibited unless the retailer can verify that the person redeeming the coupon is the original purchaser that earned the coupon for the free tobacco product.
Essentially, the FDA’s position on whether a tobacco product is a free sample is focused on the payment of money by a consumer at the time the “free” sample product is provided to the consumer. For more news on FDA regulations and its impact, visit natocentral.org.