A new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General criticizes the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) lack of oversight of online tobacco retailers.
The report raises questions about the effectiveness of FDA’s efforts to prevent youth access to tobacco products online. In the first 10 years of its oversight, FDA’s actions toward online tobacco retailers were limited to warning letters and its oversight has had poor transparency, the report noted.
The Office of Inspector General recommends that the FDA collaborate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on oversight of online tobacco retailers; complete its rulemaking on non-face-to-face sales of tobacco products, as required by the Tobacco Control Act; collect data to support process and outcome measures for its oversight of online tobacco retailers; and publish information and performance data on its oversight of online tobacco retailers.
Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association, noted that this report was done under a former director of the FDA’s tobacco program. She told CNN she has started to see positive changes in terms of enforcement under the program’s new leadership. Dr. Brian King was appointed director of the Center for Tobacco Products in July.