First it was the Pharmaceuticals, and now it’s the Tobacco Companies. Tobacco companies will no longer be allowed to distribute branded merchandise under new provisions enacted by the Food and Drug Administration. The ban has already been in place for over ten years in all but four states as a result of a 1998 legal settlement (Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi and Texas had reached separate agreements).

Beginning June 22nd, the ban goes into effect nationwide and covers all tobacco companies and retailers. “The regulations being announced today are designed to prevent our children from becoming the next generation of Americans to die early from tobacco-related illnesses,” said Howard K. Koh, U.S. assistant secretary of health.

The FDA has also created a number of additional advertising restrictions. Tobacco companies are not allowed to provide free samples of cigarettes, offer any type of gift or other item(s) with purchase of tobacco products and cannot be a brand name sponsor for athletic or entertainment events.

A spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco says that most of the rules announced have already been followed by tobacco companies. Violators may be subject to everything from warning letters to criminal prosecution. The FDA did not have authority to pass such provisions until Congress passed legislation last year, enabling the FDA to regulate tobacco for the first time. In other words, the FDA ain’t playin’ folks.

So what do we do now? Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. It’s a great time to promote QUIT SMOKING campaigns and raise awareness. Design some cool tee-shirts with anti-smoking mantra, chew some gum, get into fitness… as long as you buy it from me, you are at least stepping in the right direction.

Thanks for listening. Have a great day.