November 5, 2010 - National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) board members met on Friday, October 29th with Dr. Lawrence Deyton, the director of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), to discuss the FDA's pending guidance document that includes recommended elements of a tobacco retailer clerk training program.
With this underlying purpose in mind, NATO had two overall goals for the meeting, it said in its newsletter. First, to establish an ongoing dialogue and open the lines of communication between the association and the CTP staff. Second, encourage the FDA staff to use NATO and its members as a resource for questions about the manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing of tobacco products.
During the meeting, they discussed concerns and asked questions about the requirements for tobacco retailer clerk training programs, including the following:
Previous related news brief: NATO - opposes 2-FDA tobacco retail training program requirements..
* When asked if the FDA will certify an existing retailer training program such as the We Card program, the FDA representatives said they are still reviewing training program comments submitted by various groups and have not yet decided whether to certify an existing program.
* Asked how the FDA will conduct inspections of retail stores, the FDA staff said retailers will not know that an inspection is being conducted in their store by an FDA commissioned official. Inspections will include compliance checks by a minor who will attempt to purchase tobacco products. In addition, the inspector will determine whether clerks request proper customer identification and verify customer ages, and visually examine the store to ensure that flavored cigarettes and individual cigarettes are not being sold, self-service displays are not present in stores that allow access by minors and new health warnings are printed on cigarette and smokeless tobacco advertisements. FDA inspections may not begin until after January 1, 2011.
* A retailer will not be immediately notified of the compliance check results since the FDA staff at the CTP must review inspector reports and verify the inspections were conducted according to a uniform set of guidelines.
* The names and locations of stores that pass the inspections will be listed on a new FDA website so that retailers can determine if they have been inspected and whether their store passed.
* NATO staff discussed concerns about the possibility of retailers being encouraged to pay a bonus or provide paid time off to an employee who successfully passes a compliance check.
* NATO representatives also questioned whether all retailers should conduct internal compliance checks because many retailers may not be financially able to implement such a program.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Deyton said that he and his staff wanted to receive the industry's input on future tobacco regulations. He also agreed to meet with NATO representatives in January to discuss ways that the organization can further communicate with its members about FDA regulations.
Deyton will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2011 NATO Show, April 12-14, 2011, at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.
Reference: NATO Meets With Director of Center for Tobacco Products Association, industry representatives discuss concerns with FDA, CSP Daily News, 11/4/2010.
FDA CTP c-store training:
FDA CTP Retailer Compliance Training Sessions..;
U.S. FDA releases draft guidance document for retailers in advance of training programs...