FDA finds more than 1,000 retailers selling tobacco products to minors, several in Kentucky

More than 1,200 retailers, including CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, were issued warning letters by the Food and Drug Administration this year for illegally selling cigarettes to minors. FDA inspectors conducted 27,500 undercover checks by sending children under 18 into stores to buy cigarettes. These checks resulted in hundreds of letters being sent to retailers. Many of the warnings were sent to stores in rural areas where a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report found youth are more likely to use tobacco products.

Alina Selyukh reports for Reuters that under the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, the FDA was given broad authority over tobacco manufacture and sales. One of the provisions of the act “allows the agency to contract with states to inspect spots where youths could buy cigarettes or chewable tobacco.” Under the law, store workers are required to check identification of anyone looking younger than 27. Selyukh writes: “FDA officials said they are on a mission to begin battling the stubbornly high U.S. smoking rates by keeping tobacco out of underage hands in the first place.”

The agency posted the warning letters on its website last week along with a searchable database of all checks it conducted. The letters allow retailers to correct their infractions without fines, but repeat offenders could face fines or loss of ability to sell tobacco products of any kind. To see if retailers in your state, community or city were issued a warning letter, search the FDA database of compliance checks.

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