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Notice

Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Extension

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC or “Commission”).

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The information collection requirements described below will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The FTC is seeking public comments on its proposal to extend through August 31, 2004 the current PRA clearance for information collection requirements contained in its regulations under the Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act of 1986 (“Smokeless Tobacco Act” or the “Act”). That clearance expires on August 31, 2001.

DATES:

Comments must be submitted on or before July 3, 2001.

ADDRESSES:

Send written comments to Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room H-159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20580. All comments should be captioned “Smokeless Tobacco Regulations: Paperwork comment.”

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Requests for additional information or copies of the proposed information requirements should be addressed to Rosemary Rosso, Attorney, Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580, (202) 326-2174.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from OMB for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. “Collection of information” means agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. 44 U.S.C. 3502(3); 5 CFR 1320.3(c). As required by section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, the FTC is providing this opportunity for public comment before requesting that OMB extend the existing paperwork clearance for the Smokeless Tobacco Act regulations (OMB Control Number 3084-0082).[1]

The FTC invites comments on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency; including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

Description of the collection of information and proposed use: The Smokeless Tobacco Act requires that manufacturers, packagers, and importers of smokeless tobacco products include one of three specified health warnings on packages and in advertisements. The Act also requires that each manufacturer, packager, and importer of smokeless tobacco products submit a plan to the Commission specifying the method to rotate, display, and distribute the warning statement required to appear in advertising and labeling. The Commission is required by the Act to determine that these plans provide for rotation, display, and distribution of warnings in compliance with the Act and implementing regulations. With one exception, all of the affected companies have previously filed plans. However, the plan submission requirement continues to apply to a company that amends its plan, or to a new company that enters the market.

Burden Statement

Estimated annual hours burden: 1,000 hours (rounded). The FTC is retaining its existing burden estimate of 1,000 hours. This amount is based on the burden previously estimated for fourteen smokeless tobacco companies to prepare and submit amended compliance plans, and to permit at least three new companies to submit initial compliance plans. Though staff's calculations underlying the estimate totaled 560 hours, staff then conservatively rounded up its estimate to 1,000 hours. Staff firmly believes that this prior rounded estimate will fully incorporate any incremental effects of an additional three companies submitting plans.

Virtually all affected companies long ago filed their plans with the Commission. Additional annual reporting burdens would occur only if those companies opt to change the way they display the warnings required by the Smokeless Tobacco Act. Although it is not possible to predict whether any of these companies will seek to amend an existing approved plan (and possibly none will), staff conservatively assumes that each company will file one amendment per year. This estimate is conservative because, over the past three years, the Commission has reviewed only two minor amendments to plans and the Commission has not changed the relevant regulations.[2] The Start Printed Page 22562estimated time to prepare the two amended plans is less than 20 hours each. The only major amendment of an approved plan, occurring more than three years ago, required only 40 hours to prepare, which is considerably less time than individual companies spent preparing their initial plans. Commission staff believes it reasonable to assume that each company would consume no more than 40 hours to prepare an amended plan.

Commission staff also estimates that one smokeless tobacco manufacturer will file an initial plan, for an additional burden of approximately 150 hours.[3] When the regulations were first proposed in 1986, representatives of the Smokeless Tobacco Council, Inc. indicated that the six companies it represented would require approximately 700 to 800 hours in total (133 hours apiece) to complete the initial required plans. Staff assumed that other companies, whose plans were prepared by various other representatives, would require more time, on average, to complete their plans. Staff estimated that this latter group of companies would each require approximately 150 hours, and it believes this estimate remains reasonable.

In addition to the estimates above, the Commission anticipates that in the next three years, up to two small importers may submit initial plans, for an additional burden of approximately 80 hours. Over the past three years, two small importers submitted initial plans. Because these plans involved only a limited number of brands and no advertising, the estimated time to prepare the plans was very modest. Staff estimates that the companies spent no more than 40 hours each to prepare the plans.

Based on these assumptions, the total annual hours burden should not exceed 1,000 hours. [(14 companies × 40 hrs. each) + (one company × 150 hours) + (2 companies × 40 hrs.) = 780 total hours, rounded to one thousand hours.]

Estimated annual labor cost burden: $103,000

The total annualized labor cost to these companies should not exceed $103,000. This is based on the assumption that management or attorneys will account for 80% of the estimated 1,000 hours required to rewrite or amend the plans, at an hourly rate of $125, and that clerical support will account for the remaining time (20%) at an hourly rate of $15. (Management and attorneys' time (1,000 hrs. × 0.8 × $15 = $3,000).

Estimated annual non-labor cost burden: $0 or minimal.

The Commission knows of no recordkeeping cost burden associated with the plans for the display of the warnings. The companies may keep copies of their plans to ensure that labeling and advertising complies with the requirements of the Smokeless Tobacco Act. Such recordkeeping would require the use of office supplies, e.g., file folders and paper, all of which the companies should have on hand in the ordinary course of their business.

While companies submitting initial plans may incur one-time capital expenditures for equipment used to print package labels in order to include the statutory health warnings or to prepare acetates for advertising, the warnings themselves disclose information completely supplied by the federal government. As such, the disclosure does not constitute a “collection of information” as it is defined in the regulations implementing the PRA, nor by extension, do the financial resources expended in relation to it constitute paperwork “burden.” See 5 CFR 1320.3(c)(2). Moreover, any expenditures relating to the statutory health warning requirements would likely be minimal in any event. As noted above, virtually all affected firms have already submitted approved plans. For these companies, there are no capital expenditures. After the Commission approves a plan for the display of the warnings required by the Smokeless Tobacco Act, the companies are required to make additional submissions to the Commission only if there is a change in the way that they choose to display the warnings. Once the companies have prepared plates to print the required warnings on their labels, there are no additional set-up costs associated with the display of the warnings in labeling. Similarly, once the companies have prepared acetates of the required warnings for advertising and promotional materials, there are no additional set-up costs associated with printing the warnings in those materials.

Finally, capital expenditures for small importers are likely to be de minimis. Both firms that submitted plans over the past three years used stickers to place the warnings on their packages. The stickered warnings could be generated with office equipments and supplies such as computers and labels, all of which the companies should have on hand in the ordinary course of their business. Because neither firm engaged in any advertising, no costs associated with advertising were incurred.

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Christian S. White,

Acting General Counsel.

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Footnotes

1.  The Commission seeks comment on the costs and burdens imposed by the existing smokeless tobacco regulations. In March 2000, the Commission commenced a regulatory review of its smokeless tobacco regulations to determine whether there is a continuing need for the regulations and, if so, what revisions, if any, should be made. 65 FR 11944 (Mar. 7, 2000). In addition to comments sought on the costs and benefits of the existing regulations, the Commission requested comment on whether the regulations are effective in meeting the Smokeless Tobacco Act's format and display requirements and whether the current “safe harbor” approach is sufficiently enforceable. If the Commission determines that the regulations should be amended, it will commence a rulemaking proceeding. Should resulting amendments materially affect PRA burden, the Commission will notify OMB and seek amended clearance.

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2.  In March 2000, the Commission commenced a regulatory review of its smokeless tobacco regulations to determine whether there is a continuing need for the regulations and, if so, what revisions, if any, should be made. In addition to questions concerning the costs and benefits of the existing regulations, the Commission requested comment on whether the regulations are effective in meeting the Smokeless Tobacco Act's format and display requirements and whether the current “safe harbor” approach is sufficiently enforceable. If the Commission determines that the regulations should be amended, it will commence a rulemaking proceeding. Should any resulting amendments materially affect burden under the PRA, the Commission will notify OMB and seek amended clearance.

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3.  This company has been selling smokeless tobacco products for several years, but failed to submit a plan as required by the Act and the regulations. The company currently is in the process of obtaining approval of a complying rotational plan. Thus, most, if not all, of the 150 estimated burden hours likely will have been expended before August 31, 2001. However, erring on the conservative side, staff has included these hours in its burden estimate.

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[FR Doc. 01-11237 Filed 5-3-01; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-M