The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published its latest industry guideline, this time concerning “The Prohibition of Distributing Free Samples of Tobacco Products.”
There’s been several questions regarding sampling in the industry moving forward, and the FDA hopes these guidelines will clarify some of the more nebulous issues. As previously advised by the IPCPR and other tobacco advocacy organizations, retailers are abiding by FDA regulations if a “transaction” is made between the consumer and the retailer. In other words, retailers and manufacturers are not allowed to provide consumers with free cigars, unless there is a tobacco product transaction.
So, it is legal if a retailer offers coupons for less than full price for a cigar, promotes “buy one, get one 1/2 off”-type deals or has some form of membership “punch card” incentives that offer a free cigar after purchasing a certain amount of tobacco products. The key point is for any kind of “sampling” deal offered, it must be connected with some kind of tobacco product transaction for it to be legal.
Business to business sampling are also allowed, but the FDA notes it should be “no more than necessary to achieve a business or market goal.”
For the complete FDA guidelines on sampling, visit here.