WASHINGTON -- Cigar and pipe tobacco have escaped the president's Executive Order on tobacco, but cigarettes are headed for some strict restrictions.
One of the major concerns in the supermarket industry is that self-service cigarette displays will be prohibited, said Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive officer of the Food Marketing Institute here. "Banning self-service displays is a very serious issue for our industry, and it clearly sets a precedent for the FDA to intrude themselves in our stores in all kinds of other products in the future," he said. Hammonds pointed out that it's retailers who will be fined and penalized rather than minors who illegally purchase them.
There's also a provision that requires clerks to ask for photo identification from anyone under 26 years old. If a clerk fails to do so, and it's discovered the purchaser was 23 years of age, the clerk can still be fined even though the sale was legal.
It could take years before the rules go into effect because of legal challenges. For instance, the governor of North Carolina, reportedly the nation's largest tobacco-growing state, has discussed with the state Attorney General the possibility of legal action, according to Amy Green, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Attorney General's office.