McConnell, Va. senator poke FDA about lack of action on rules to enforce two-year-old minimum age of 21 to buy tobacco products

Sens. McConnell and Kaine at the University of Louisville’s
McConnell Center in 2019 (Courier-Journal photo by Pat McDonogh)

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia have complained to the Food and Drug Administration about the agency’s delay in implementing the law they got passed more than two years ago to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21.

They also needled FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, who was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 15, about “the lack of communication regarding the inaction, and asking the commissioner for plans regarding the future,” reports Halfwheel, blog about cigars and tobacco issues.

McConnell and Kaine sent Califf a letter March 11 “to express concern about the delays in finalizing regulations related to the Tobacco 21 legislation and the lack of transparency around the implementation and enforcement of that legislation,” as they put it. Without updated regulations, “FDA is limited in its ability to punish retailers for potentially violating the new standard,” Halfwheel notes.
The senators noted that the FDA’s compliance checks of retailers fell off greatly in 2020, with less than half the number of inspections and a third as many warning letters as in 2019.
“Many states and local governments had already passed legislation increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21 prior to December 2019 and many more have followed through since then,” Halfwheel reports. “By changing state and local laws, it allows for state and local law enforcement to issue warnings and citations to those caught selling tobacco products to people under the age of 21.”
McConnell and Kaine asked Califf to respond by Friday, March 25, with a timeline for issuance of the regulations, “including details on the rule’s current status in the review process and an explanation for why FDA did not meet the statutory deadline for issuing a final rule,” which was June 2020.
Previous Article
Next Article