FDA to Require Tobacco Retailers to Implement Effective Training Programs for Employees
On Friday, February 26th, the FDA announced plans to issue a guidance requiring tobacco retailers to establish an employee training program. Under this proposed regulation, all current and new employees would be required to pass a written test prior to selling tobacco products.
Topics to be Covered in Training Programs
In the Federal Register notice, FDA stated that the proposed guidance will discuss the elements to be covered in a training program. These include:
- “Federal laws restricting the access to, and the advertising and promotion of, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco product.
- The health and economic effects of tobacco use, especially when the tobacco use begins at a young age.
- Written company policies against sales to minors.
- Identification of the tobacco products sold in the retail establishment that are subject to the Federal laws prohibiting their sale to persons under the age of 18.
- Age verification methods.
- Practical guidelines for refusing sales.
- Testing to ensure that employees have the required knowledge.”
In order to “provide evidence of a training program during the 48-month time period covered by the civil money penalty schedules in section 103(q)(2)(A) of the Tobacco Control Act,” the FDA recommends that retailers maintain records documenting that all employees have completed training. Retailers should keep these records for a minimum of four years.
As part of an effective training program, FDA recommends that tobacco retailers implement various hiring and management practices as well. As part of these recommended practices, FDA says that all applicants and current employees should be provided with verbal and written notification that details the importance of the laws governing the sale of tobacco products. It is critical for employees to understand that anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited from purchasing tobacco products. To accentuate the important nature of this law, retailers should require employees to sign a document acknowledging that they have read and understand the laws and information surrounding the sale of tobacco products.
In addition, the Agency recommends that an internal program be implemented to ensure compliance with the laws mentioned above. Tobacco retailers should have procedures and corrective actions that accompany the program, which should be documented and posted for all employees to see.