Each year at this time, NATO invites members to consider being a candidate for the NATO board of directors. The current NATO board is comprised of twelve retail directors, ten manufacturer directors, and two wholesale directors. For the upcoming NATO board elections that will be held in October, there will be five retail board seats, four manufacturer board seats, and two wholesale board seats open for election. Each newly elected director will serve a two-year term beginning on January 1, 2015 and ending on December 31, 2016.
NATO’s purposes and principles include improving the business conditions for retailers that sell tobacco products, informing association members about local, state and federal laws and regulations regarding the sale, advertising, promotion, and taxation of tobacco products, assisting association members in responding to proposed tobacco legislation and regulations, and conducting an annual trade show.
Serving as a NATO board member is a serious commitment. The NATO board of directors sets the overall policy direction and goals for the association and has direct input into which tobacco-related issues the association becomes engaged in on the local, state and federal levels. NATO is the only national retail organization that monitors and responds to numerous kinds of local tobacco ordinances, state tobacco legislation, federal tobacco legislation, and FDA regulations. All of the issues that NATO acts upon have a direct impact on the retail tobacco industry and the association’s efforts are focused on protecting the right to sell legal tobacco products without undue regulation or over taxation.
The NATO board meets in person twice a year with one meeting in Las Vegas the day prior to the annual NATO Show and the other meeting in late November or early December. A director also serves as a member of one or more NATO Committees that include the Government Affairs Committee, Public Relations Committee, Trade Show Committee, Membership Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, or By-Laws and Governance Committee.
To be eligible as a board of director candidate, an individual needs to be an owner, partner, shareholder, officer or employee of a NATO member in good standing. If you would like to be a board of director candidate, know of an individual who would be well suited to be a board candidate, or have additional questions about the qualifications or responsibilities of NATO board members, please contact NATO Executive Director Tom Briant at 1-866-869-8888 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 24, 2014. The NATO board of director election ballots will be sent to all NATO members during the first week of October.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a second report on how the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products has spent tobacco manufacturer user fees collected to administer the agency’s federal tobacco regulations. The GAO has the responsibility of reviewing how federal government agencies spend funds.
As of March 31, 2014, the FDA has collected $1.88 billion in manufacturer user fees since 2009 and has spent $1.48 billion of that amount over the past five years. Of the $1.48 billion spent so far, $508 million, or just over half a billion dollars, has been spent on public education which has include a television commercial project called “The Real Cost Campaign” to educate youth on the health consequences of cigarette smoking, the “Break the Chain” campaign to reduce tobacco use, and the communication of information to the public about the activities of the Center for Tobacco Products.
Also, $449 million dollars has been spent on scientific research projects that will likely form the foundation for future FDA regulations on tobacco products. Some of the projects funded include research to establish a baseline analysis of harmful constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke, to predict emerging tobacco product use among young people, to determine if there is a public health impact of raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 or to 25, and to determine the influence of advertising and product type on e-cigarette demand among smokers. There are numerous other long-term research projects that the FDA is also funding with the manufacturer user fees.
Besides the funds spent on the health-related campaigns and scientific research, the FDA has spent $123 million on retail inspection programs. Overall, retailers have passed the FDA inspections about 94% of the time.
Next, the FDA has spent $25 million to process substantial equivalency (SE) applications. An SE application is a request by a manufacturer to the FDA to have a tobacco product that was introduced in the marketplace after February 15, 2007 be approved for continued sale if it is very similar to a tobacco product that was already on the market prior to February 15, 2007. The GAO report found that the agency has approved 17 SE applications, and denied 17 SE applications, leaving 4,177 SE applications still pending.
To date, the FDA has spent $4 million to issue tobacco regulation guidance documents and $19 million on issuing regulations, funding the Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee meetings, holding public workshops, and issuing advanced notices of proposed regulations.
Under the Tobacco Control Act, the federal law that authorizes the FDA to regulate tobacco products, the agency is scheduled to collect the following amount of user fees from manufacturers:
- Fiscal Year 2015: $566,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2016: $599,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2017: $635,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2018: $672,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2019 and Each Year After: $712,000,000
The GAO report concluded that the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products continues to face challenges, specifically setting and monitoring review time frames for Substantial Equivalency applications. The report indicates that while the FDA has announced performance measures for some of its SE review processes which will take effect in October of 2014, the agency has not developed performance measures for reviewing the bulk of the 4,177 SE applications still pending.