Federal Regulation of Tobacco

In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. In 2016, the FDA extended its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including cigars and e-cigarettes.

FDA regulation can benefit adult tobacco consumers by:

  • Establishing a common set of high standards for all tobacco manufacturers and importers doing business in the U.S.
  • Providing a framework for the evaluation of tobacco products that are potentially less harmful than conventional cigarettes.
  • Creating clear principles for accurate and scientifically grounded communications about tobacco products to adult tobacco consumers.

Since 2009, the FDA has been focused on implementing the law and putting the resources in place to carry out their responsibilities. Some changes that have already taken place because of this regulation include:

  • Removing terms like “Lights” and “Ultra Lights” from cigarette packaging and advertising.
  • Requiring most retailers to place all cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products behind the check-out counter.
  • Increasing the size of warning labels on smokeless tobacco products. Many important decisions remain to be made.

The FDA often asks the public and others affected by potential regulations for their point of view. Paying attention to future FDA regulations and knowing how to make your voice heard with the FDA and Congress is important.

Information about FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products can be found at http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/default.htm.

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