NATO - opposes 2-FDA tobacco retail training program requirements..

September 16, 2010 - The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) opposes two new tobacco retail training program requirements proposed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the group said in has comments submitted to the agency, according to its most recent NATO E-News report.

Draft Guidance for FDA and Tobacco Retailers: Civil Money Penalties and No-Tobacco-Sale Orders For Tobacco Retailers

Throughout September 2010, FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) is holding the remaining four of five live training sessions for retailers on federal tobacco regulations.

National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) will host a workshop with officials from the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) to answer retailer questions on October 7, 2010.

(1) Under the FDA law, retailers are not required to train employees on how to prevent the sale of regulated tobacco products to minors; however, in the event tobacco products are sold to a minor, the retailer will be subject to a lower fine if it has an approved training program with elements required by the FDA.

The FDA believes that retailers should teach store employees about the health effects and economic costs of tobacco use including the number of approximate deaths due to tobacco use and the dollar amount of health care costs and lost productivity attributable to tobacco. As noted in NATO's comments, the FDA law does not require such elements in a training program nor do these specific claims have any relevance to training store personnel in methods to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors.

(2) And the FDA proposes that retailers conduct internal compliance checks, reward employees who pass an internal compliance check with a "cash bonus or time off" and include an employee's pass or fail history from compliance checks in making decisions about annual compensation, job promotion or job termination.

NATO has objected to these proposed requirements as well since smaller, independent retailers may not have the financial resources to establish an internal sting program and the idea of a cash bonus or time off is outside the scope of the FDA's jurisdiction and the scope of the FDA law itself.

The FDA has also issued a draft guidance entitled Civil Money Penalties & No-Tobacco-Sale Orders for Tobacco Retailers, NATO said. This guidance is a proposed set of rules the FDA would follow if a retailer violates the FDA law and includes the level of fines for the sale of tobacco to a minor. The FDA law sets a lower level of fines if a retailer has an approved employee training program that includes the elements the FDA will finalize in the near future.

The fines for a retailer who has an approved training program and sells tobacco products to a minor are:

* First violation a warning letter.
* Second violation in 12 months, a $250 fine.
* Third violation in 24 months, a $500 fine.
* Fourth violation in 24 months, a $2,000 fine.
* Fifth violation in 36 months, a $5,000 fine.
* Sixth or subsequent violation in 48 months, a $10,000 fine.

If there are repeated violations at any particular tobacco retailer, a "no-tobacco-sales" order prohibiting the sale of tobacco products at that location may be issued. The FDA's draft guidance provides explanations of the factors involved in assessing fines and no-tobacco-sales orders. To enforce the prohibition of sales to minors, the FDA will be conducting retail compliance checks and contracting with states to carry out the sting operations.

Full text of NATO's comments..

Reference: NATO Comments on FDA Tobacco Retail Requirements Opposes health, economic training, employee incentives, CSP (Convenience Store/Petroleum) Daily News, 9/15/2010.