FDA Declines "Positive Reinforcement" Letters

Published in Tobacco E-News

Agency says it is declining to send letters to retailers that pass compliance inspections

By  Thomas A. Briant, Executive Director

At the FDA Retail Stakeholder meeting held on August 24th, NATO representatives reiterated a request that the FDA send a letter to retailers that pass FDA-sponsored compliance inspections. Currently, a retailer needs to go on the FDA website to search a database listing all of the stores at which compliance inspections were conducted, to determine if the retailer's store was selected for a compliance inspection and passed the inspection.

NATO renewed this request, because an FDA letter to a retailer that indicates a compliance inspection was passed successfully would be a very significant positive-reinforcement tool for store employees. In an email message sent on September 30th to the retail stakeholder meeting attendees, Dr. Lawrence Deyton, the director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), states that posting of the outcome of retail store inspections on the FDA's website is sufficient recognition of a retailer's success in passing an inspection. Specifically, he included the following statement in his email message:

"Positive reinforcement for retailers:During our meeting, I promised that FDA staff and I would discuss your recommendation that CTP provide some kind of positive reinforcement for retailers' compliance with the law. We did that. I want you to know that we understand how important it is to you to both comply with FDA regulations and that you would like to be able to recognize your employees with positive reinforcement. Of course, complying with the law is reward in and of itself. That, and the full knowledge that your staff are doing their part to protect kids from underage tobacco use, I know adds meaning to the efforts you and your staff contribute to the health of your communities. We are certainly pleased that the majority of retailers who are inspected 'pass' that inspection. The fact that retailer establishments that pass inspections are listed on FDA's website is our attempt to share information with the public. This data is public information that any citizen, individual retailer, retail chain, trade association, or the like, can use or publicize for positive reinforcement."

Retailers should check the FDA website on a regular basis to determine if their store or stores were inspected, and to learn the outcome of the inspection. Click here to go to the FDA Web page titled "Compliance Check Inspections of Tobacco Product Retailer." Simply fill in the form on this Web page, with the retail store name, city, state, zip code and the date range and click "search" to find an inspection report.

Please recall that thirty-five states and the District of Columbia are currently conducting FDA-sponsored compliance inspections on retail stores. To determine if your state is conducting FDA-compliance inspections, click here for the FDA Web page that lists the 35 states plus the District of Columbia that currently perform FDA compliance inspections.