WASHINGTON — Taking aim at the tobacco industry's youth marketing machinery, the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday outlawed free samples of cigarettes and banned the use of tobacco brand names on promotional gear and in the sponsorship of concerts and sporting events.
The agency also added a federal ban on the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to people under 18, imposing a uniform standard on varying state restrictions already in place.
Under the new rules, store clerks will be required to check photo IDs to verify that customers are old enough to buy tobacco goods.
Other restrictions announced Thursday include bans on the sale of cigarettes via vending machines except in locations closed to people under 18, and on the sale of cigarette packs with fewer than 20 cigarettes. Such smaller packs can be cheaper and thus potentially more attractive to very young buyers.
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The new rules "will help our kids stay healthier by making it harder for tobacco companies to target them," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a news conference announcing the new marketing rules.
Sebelius said that each day 4,000 people under 18 try smoking for the first time and 1,000 of them become daily smokers.
The new regulations result from power to regulate tobacco granted to the FDA by Congress last year and are slated to go into effect June 22.