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New FDA rules restrict tobacco marketing to kids

Marketing tobacco products to kids and teens will be restricted under new FDA rules to be published Friday.

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For the first time, the US government is setting new national rules and regulations on the advertising and marketing of tobacco products.

On Thursday, the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, said the new rules are aimed at cutting the appeal of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products for children and adolescents.

“The historic rule we are issuing today will help our kids stay healthy and make it harder for the tobacco companies to target them with harmful and addictive products,” said Ms. Sebelius at a press conference in Washington.

The rules will be published on Friday by the US Food and Drug Administration and will go into effect June 22.

The new FDA rules prohibit a fairly wide gamut of tobacco marketing efforts – from sponsorships to free giveaways to the sale or distribution of free hats or T-shirts.

In addition, the rules prohibit the sale of loose cigarettes and the sale of cigarettes in vending machines except in adult-only locations. They also ban tobacco companies from giving away free samples of cigarettes.

The FDA plans to give grants to states to enforce the rules, said Margaret Hamburg, the FDA’s commissioner. She said violators will get warning letters and could receive fines or other civil penalties.

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