Marketing Restrictions

Tobacco products are among the most heavily regulated consumer goods in the world. These adult consumer products are subject to extensive federal, state and local licensing, registration and minimum age requirements.

These requirements became even more extensive in 2009 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating tobacco products. The FDA has the authority to regulate virtually all aspects of the sale, distribution and marketing of tobacco products. On May 10, 2016, the FDA published a Final Rule to extend the Agency’s authority to regulate other tobacco products, including cigars, e-vapor products, and other products containing tobacco-derived nicotine. We supported this Final Rule.


Federal Regulation

In 2009, Congress empowered the FDA to regulate all tobacco products. Altria’s tobacco companies supported this landmark legislation. Today, Altria and its tobacco companies, such as USSTC, communicate with the agency as it exercises this authority. They also supported the FDA’s Final Rule – published May 10, 2016 – extending its authority to all tobacco products, including cigars and e-vapor products.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act includes a number of restrictions on cigarette and smokeless tobacco sales, marketing and advertising, including:

  • imposing a national minimum age of 18 to purchase;
  • prohibiting the sale of smokeless tobacco in vending machines, self-service displays or other impersonal modes of sales, except in very limited situations;
  • restricting sampling of smokeless tobacco;
  • prohibiting smokeless tobacco brand name sponsorships; and
  • prohibiting the sale or distribution of items, such as hats and t-shirts, with cigarette and smokeless tobacco brands or logos.

 

The significant rise in youth use of e-vapor threatens to undermine the hard-fought gains made in preventing underage use of conventional tobacco products. We support the FDA's commitment to leverage its authority and resources to take additional steps to address these new, emerging issues associated with underage use, while continuing the progress that's been made on traditional products.

USSTC is committed to being part of the solution. In addition to our long-standing efforts, we supported legislation to raise the minimum age for all tobacco products to 21. We believe this is the most effective step available to reverse rising underage e-vapor rates and protecting the potential for reduced harm products for adults. In December 2019, federal legislation raised the legal age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21, making it the law of the land.

Tobacco Settlement Agreements

The FDA began regulating tobacco products against the backdrop of the 1998 Tobacco Settlement Agreements, which fundamentally changed how companies market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products in the United States. These agreements banned or heavily restricted a wide range of marketing practices.

Smokeless Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement

The U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company is the only smokeless tobacco manufacturer to sign the Smokeless Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (STMSA) with 45 state attorneys general. Under this agreement, the company adopted an array of marketing and advertising restrictions, and contributed to a national fund, the primary purpose of which is to fund programs to reduce youth usage of tobacco products. USSTC today remains the only smokeless tobacco company in the country participating in this agreement.

This agreement includes a variety of restrictions on the sale and marketing of smokeless tobacco products, including prohibiting:

  • use of cartoons in advertising, promotion, packaging or labeling of tobacco products;
  • most outdoor advertising, including billboards and stadium ads;
  • most transit ads;
  • paid product placement;
  • brand name sponsored concerts; and
  • distribution of merchandise with smokeless tobacco brand names and logos.
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