With everyone preparing for the state's smoking ban in bars on July 5, another tobacco restriction slipped by this month.
It's no longer legal to sell cigarettes through vending machines, according to a new Federal Drug Administration rule, which went into effect June 22.
The FDA's rule only allows an exception for cigarette vending machines in businesses where no one under the age of 18 is allowed to enter. Bars are generally excluded from this exception because children under 18 can enter most bars with their parents.
Here's the memo from the state's Department of Health Services on the cigarette vending machine ban, including info on how to report businesses violating the new rule:
The purpose of this memo is to inform you of a new FDA rule, which makes the sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco via vending machines illegal in Wisconsin as of June 22, 2010.
Earlier this year, the FDA issued a final rule! containing a broad set of federal requirements designed to significantly curb access to and the appeal of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to children and adolescents in the United States. The new rule, Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco to Protect Children and Adolescents, becomes effective June 22, 2010.
In pertinent part, the rule states that "a retailer may sell cigarettes or smokeless tobacco only in a direct, face-to-face exchange without the assistance of any electronic or mechanical device (such as a vending machine)." It is up to each retailer to determine how best to comply with the rule based on their individual establishment. This may consist of removing tobacco products or the machine itself.
The FDA rule allows an exception for cigarette vending machines only "where no person younger than 18 years of age is present, or permitted to enter, at any time." Under Wisconsin law, persons under the state legal drinking age are permitted to enter establishments licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages when accompanied by their parent, guardian, or spouse over the legal drinking age. These establishments would not qualify for the exception allowed under the federal rule, because individuals under the age of 18 are permitted to enter.
Members of the general public can report violations to FDA's Center for Tobacco Products through their website (http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/default.htm) by e-mail (AskCTP@fda.hhs.gov), or by phone (1-877-CTP-1373).
Please take necessary steps to be in compliance with the FDA regulation as of June 22, 2010.
Contact Patrick Ellestad at Patrick.Ellestad@wi.gov or 608-267-9189 for additional information.