Sales Restrictions

One of the most insidious revelations in the monumental 2006 federal racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry, U.S. v. Philip Morris, was the extent to which different tobacco companies at different times over the last fifty years intentionally marketed to children under the age of twenty-one with the express purpose of recruiting “replacement smokers” to ensure the economic future of the industry. 

The targeting of minors, via advertisements and promotions, has been a longstanding strategy of the industry, and the focus of much legislation, regulation, and litigation.  The 1998 Minnesota and Master Tobacco Settlements, and the recent federal legislation regulating tobacco, all restrict marketing, including advertising and sponsorship activities, that targets children.  To date, despite legal and regulatory measures, the tobacco industry continually finds ways to attract children to its products – such as smokeless tobacco products that resemble gumdrops, candy or fruit-flavored products –  via avenues such as online marketing. (See additional information on Firesafe Cigarettes, Flavored Products, and Other Tobacco Products.] 

Another common industry tactic is the false marketing of products, such as “low tar / light” cigarettes, as less harmful than full-flavor cigarettes. Recent rulings in class actions against tobacco companies for misleading customers in “light” or “low yield” cigarette promotions may signal growing judicial impatience with this type of deceptive advertising.

This section covers common tobacco advertising and retail marketing tactics, and related law and policy obstacles and options.

Check out our Sales Restrictions resources!

For Other Related Topics:

Featured Publications

  Point-of-Sale Strategies: A Tobacco Control Guide (2014)

A 52-page guide with a wealth of practical information on selecting and implementing strategies to limit the sale, display, and advertising of tobacco products in the retail environment.  (Center for Public Health Systems Science at Washington University in St. Louis and Tobacco Control Legal Consortium) 

  Pricing Strategies - Tobacco Control Guide (2014)

A 32-page guide on how to implement policies that effectively raise the cost of tobacco products, such as excise tax increases, as well as other price-related policies and enforcement measures.  (Center for Public Health Systems Science at Washington University in St. Louis and Tobacco Control Legal Consortium)

  Policy Strategies - Tobacco Control Guide (2014)

A 32-page guide on how to work with the media, coalitions, decision makers, business owners, and communities to create smoke-free environments, increase the cost of tobacco products, and restrict access to tobacco products.  (Center for Public Health Systems Science at Washington University in St. Louis and Tobacco Control Legal Consortium)

  The Land of 10000 Tobacco Products: How Minnesota Led the Way in Regulating Tobacco Products - AJPH (2013)

Overview of how Minnesota’s 2010 enactment of the Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act addressed regulatory gaps in the state's tobacco control laws and identified ways in which future laws could be strengthened. Michael Freiberg et al., Am. J Public Health (Dec. 12, 2013).

  Other Tobacco Products: A Select Bibliography of Recent Studies (2012)

Select listing of recent studies of five non-cigarette tobacco products:  dissolvables, electronic cigarettes, little cigars, snus and water pipes (hookahs).

  Options for Regulating Tobacco in the Retail Environment (2012)

Options that states and local governments could consider in regulating tobacco products at the point of sale.

  Federal Regulation of Tobacco and the Retail Environment (2012)

Summary of federal tobacco restrictions that impact the retail environment and options state and many local governments could consider when regulatling tobacco in retail settings.

  Strategies to Combat Illicit Tobacco Trade (2012)

Law synopsis providing overview of illicit tobacco trade within and across U.S. borders, including suggestions on how state and local governments, as well as health organizations, can contribute to the fight against it.

  Checked at the Check-Out Counter: Preemption at the Tobacco Point-of-Sale (2012)

Overview of preemption and how it applies in the tobacco point-of-sale context.

  Options for State and Local Governments to Regulate Non-Cigarette Tobacco Products (2012)

This article examines deficiencies in many federal, state, and local tobacco control laws relating to OTPs, using five products as case studies. The article focuses on areas which are ripe for regulation at the state and local level. The tobacco control laws in Minnesota, which offer a unique perspective on the regulation of OTPs, are highlighted in this discussion.

Michael Freiberg, J.D.
Annals of Public Health

  Sample Language to Restrict the Sale of Flavored Non-Cigarette Tobacco Products -- Tips & Tools (2012)

Sample language that a local government can adapt in restricting the sale of flavored non-cigarette tobacco products, along with detailed commentary on the concepts addressed.

  State Taxation of Cigarettes -- Tips & Tools (2012)

Policy background information about state cigarette taxation, including policy rationale, options, elements, challenges, and resources, as well as an overview of current federal and state cigarette excise tax rates. 

  State Taxation of Non-Cigarette Tobacco Products -- Tips & Tools (2012)

Policy considerations related to state taxation of non-cigarette tobacco products, including information on federal and state non-cigarette tobacco product excise tax rates, policy rationale, options, elements, challenges, and resources.

  Tobacco Tax Basics: An Introduction to Key Considerations for States (2012)

Basic information about the taxation of cigarettes and non-cigarette tobacco products, including the public health rationale for tobacco tax increases, policy options for raising taxes, and tobacco industry political and marketing tactics in reaction to tax increases.

  Federal Regulation of Tobacco and Its Impact on the Retail Environment (2012)

Overview of the federal tobacco restrictions that impact the retail environment, with a focus on provisions in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and related regulations. This fact sheet also includes policy options that states and many local governments can consider to further restrict tobacco in retail settings.

  Raising the Minimum Legal Sale Age for Tobacco and Related Products - Tips and Tools (2013)

Basic information for state and local policymakers, advocates, and others on policy implications related to raising the minimum legal sale age for tobacco and related products as a tobacco control strategy.

  Roll Your Own Tobacco Machines: An Overview (2012)

Basic information regulating "roll your own" tobacco machines, its impact on public health, and some of the options communities might consider in regulating these products.

  Regulating Roll Your Own Tobacco Machines - Tips & Tools (2012)

Basic information for state and local policymakers, advocates, and others on regulating "roll your own" tobacco machines; includes policy benefits, policy options, legal challenges, select legislation and policies and resources.

  Tobacco Control Act and SAMHSA Synar Program Comparison (2012)

Overview of the collaboration between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to ensure that their separate programs work together to help reach the shared goal of reducing youth access to, and use of, tobacco products.

  Policy Options for Combating Tobacco Industry Price Discounting

Tue, 04/03/2012

The webinar explains the public health importance of strategies to restrict tobacco price discounting, and it will outline the various options that state and local governments might consider in limiting tobacco price discounting, as well as the legal issues implicated by such policy options.

  Regulating Flavored Tobacco Products - Tips & Tools (2011)

Pointers that communities and policymakers might want to consider in drafting and implementing policies that regulate flavored tobacco products.

  Model Tobacco Licensing Ordinance - Minnesota (2010)

Public Health Law Center & League of Minnesota Cities Codification Service

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