AUGUSTA, Maine (Legal Newsline) - Maine Attorney General William Schneider announced an agreement on July 11 with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products to prevent the sale and distribution of tobacco to minors.
The agreement is a one-year contract with two one-year options worth a total of $2.1 million if all of the options are exercised. The funds will be used to supplement existing compliance efforts and will be administered by Schneider's office on behalf of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2010, Maine was awarded one of the first of two FDA compliance and enforcement contracts to pilot the program. The FDA now has contracts with 19 states and will award contracts to several other states through the end of September.
Maine's laws mirror the federal regulations that prohibit the sale of smokeless tobacco, cigarette tobacco and cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 and require retailers to check the identification of anyone under the age of 27.
The federal law also prohibits sales to minors of flavored cigarettes, cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and smokeless tobacco labeled low tar, light or containing similar descriptions that convey a message that the product may be safer than others on the market.
"Compliance is at an all-time high," Schneider said. "Our continued partnership with FDA will assist us in limiting the availability of tobacco products to Maine children and adolescents. We have also partnered with DHHS on the NO BUTS responsible tobacco retailer program which now offers online training to help retail employees comply with the law."