FDA Begins Issuing Fines up to $5,000
The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products has begun issuing “civil money penalty complaints,” which are used to begin the agency’s legal action against a retailer for alleged violations of federal tobacco regulations and can result in the assessment of a fine. The FDA’s website lists 20 retailers that have been sent civil money penalty complaints for various alleged violations, including selling tobacco products to a minor; failing to verify the age of customers that are 27 years old or younger by requesting photo identification; having self-service displays of cigarettes, roll-your-own or smokeless tobacco products; failing to remove self-service displays from the store; and, for adult-only tobacco stores, failing to sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products in a direct face-to-face exchange, without ensuring that a minor is not present or permitted to enter the store at any time.
Of the 20 retailers cited in the FDA complaints, the agency is seeking to assess a $250 fine on six retailers, a $500 fine on 11 retailers and a $5,000 fine on three retailers. The retailers being cited with a $250 fine have been inspected by the FDA at least twice, and have two to three alleged tobacco regulation violations listed in the complaint. The retailers being cited with a $500 fine have been inspected at least twice, and have three to four alleged violations in the complaint. The three retailers being cited for a $5,000 fine have been inspected at least twice, and have six alleged violations in the complaint. The penalty structure being used by the FDA is as follows:
Number of Violations Civil Money Penalty
1 violation $0
2 violations within 12 months $250
3 violations within 24 months $500
4 violations within 24 months $2,000
5 violations within 36 months $5,000
6 violations within 48 months $10,000
Out of the 20 retailers cited with a complaint, 11 retailers responded to the FDA’s warning letters that alleged retail violations while the other nine retailers did not respond in any manner to the FDA warning letters.
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