Tobacco laws in the US
Began in 2009 with the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act by the United States Congress. With this statute, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was given the ability to regulate tobacco products.
Minimum age is 19
Minimum age is 18
Minimum age is 17
Minimum age is 16
No minimum age
Prior to 1996, the FDA played no role in the regulation of tobacco products, and regulations were controlled through a combination of state and congressional regulation. Most state laws dealt with the sale of tobacco products, including the issue of selling to minors and licensing of distributors. By 1950, most states had laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors, which at the time, the purchase age differed in each state. In 1992 the federal government required states to set a minimum age of at least 18 years to purchase tobacco products, which was amended in all states by 1993.
In 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry issued a report on smoking and health saying that tobacco causes lung cancer and is a main contributor to bronchitis. Members of the Federal Trade Commission read the report the day it was released and quickly proposed a mandatory cigarette label that warned, "CAUTION: cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health and may cause death from cancer and other diseases." However, Congress intervened to block this warning label with language that was less dire. In 1965, the US Congress passed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act (FCLAA), which required a health warning on all cigarette packs. In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, which banned cigarettes ads on the radio or television. It also required an updated warning on the cigarette packages which read: "Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health."
In 1996, the FDA issued the "FDA Rule, " which asserted its authority over tobacco products and issued a rule intending to prevent and reduce tobacco use by children. The intended regulations included prohibiting non-face-to-face sales of tobacco products, prohibiting outdoor advertising of tobacco products near schools or playgrounds, imposing more stringent advertising regulations, and prohibiting brand name sponsorships, among other things.
After the regulations were issued in 1996, tobacco companies sued. In the 2000 Supreme Court case, the court ruled that Congress had not given the FDA authority over tobacco and tobacco marketing.
Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (also known as the FSPTC Act) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 22, 2009. This bill changed the scope of tobacco policy in the United States by giving the FDA the ability to regulate tobacco products, similar to how it has regulated food and pharmaceuticals since the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.
President Barack Obama, who has himself struggled with smoking addiction, praised the law, saying that it will save American lives. The Obama administration had previously voiced support for such an act, while former President George W. Bush had threatened to veto the law after it had passed the United States House of Representatives in 2008. Much opposition to the law from Congress came from tobacco-growing states such as North Carolina, whose representatives said they felt that the FDA was not fit to take on the large task of regulating tobacco products.
The act gives the FDA comprehensive control on tobacco products for sale in the United States. Much of the legislation is targeted specifically at cigarettes and/or smokeless tobacco products. The act gives the FDA the power to:
- Require tobacco companies to submit an ingredients list of any product sold or imported in the United States
- Require tobacco companies to make public the nicotine content of their products and to adopt standards of nicotine content and to reduce or eliminate other harmful substances present
- Enlarge warnings on tobacco packaging so that they take up 50% of the front and back panel area
- Regulate the use of terms such as "mild" and "light" by requiring that tobacco products conform to certain standards regarding these terms
- Create a Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee to help inform the FDA on issues relating to tobacco products
Center for Tobacco Products
The Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) is the Branch of the FDA created in response to and for the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The FDA currently has eight divisions, each of which is responsible for protecting some aspect of the public health. The main duties of the Center for Tobacco control include:
- Set performance standards
- Require and control warning labels
- Establish and enforce advertising restrictions
The Center for Tobacco Products is the newest branch of the FDA, and officially was opened on August 19, 2009. Lawrence Deyton, M.D., M.S.P.H, was appointed the first director of the center. Mitch Zeller, JD, became the Director of CTP in March 2013. Mr. Zeller was the associate commissioner and director of FDA's first Office of Tobacco Programs until 2000, when the Supreme Court decided that Congress did not give the FDA authority over tobacco products and tobacco product marketing.
A ban on flavored tobacco, as mandated by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, was implemented by the CTC on September 22, 2009. This law bans the sale or distribution of any cigarettes containing an artificial or natural flavor other than tobacco. This ban does not apply to menthol.