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    FDA Clarifies Flavored Cigarette Ban

    Roll-your-own tobacco, rolling papers with "certain characterizing flavors" banned; verdict still out on little cigars.

    WASHINGTON -- Additional information was provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in regards to the ban on cigarettes containing "certain characterizing flavors" that went into effect Sept. 22, including the implication of rolling papers, roll-your-own tobacco and little cigars.

    The FDA stated the "special rule" prohibits a cigarette or its component parts -- including the tobacco, filter or paper -- from containing ingredients, additives, herbs, spices, and artificial or natural flavors other than tobacco or menthol. Such flavors that are banned include strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple, vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry and coffee.

    According to a statement released yesterday by the FDA, this ban applies to loose tobacco to be used as cigarette and roll-your-own tobacco, as well as cigarette rolling papers and filters.

    "A consumer-rolled, roll-your-own cigarette is a cigarette under section 900(3) [of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act] because it is a wrapped roll of tobacco," the FDA said in a statement. "Rolling paper or filters intended for use in roll-your-own cigarettes are component parts of a rolled, roll-your-own cigarette and therefore may not be flavored with a characterizing flavor."

    As a result, Republic Tobacco issued a statement to retailers and wholesalers, stating that the sale of certain products has ceased, including Golden Wrap flavored tobacco wraps, Top flavored papers and Wildfire flavored papers. It also asked its customers to halt the sale of these products, and instead, return the products by Oct. 30, for a full credit of the purchase price.

    The ban does not apply to flavored pipe tobacco, and it is not immediately clear if the ban applies to little cigars. In its statement to the tobacco industry, the FDA said the ban applies to all tobacco products with certain characterizing flavors that meet the definition of a "cigarette" in section 900(3) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, even if they are not labeled as "cigarettes" or are labeled as cigars or as some other product.

    In a separate statement, the FDA stated it is examining options for regulating both menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes. And when asked during a press conference about the application of the ban to little cigars, the head of the FDA's tobacco committee, Dr. Lawrence Deyton, said the issue of a ban on other flavored tobacco products will be studied by the FDA in the near future, according to reports by the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO), which said, "The lack of a definitive 'yes' or 'no' in the FDA advisory ... plus the statement by Dr. Deyton about the need to study the issue further, can lead a reasonable person to conclude that flavored little cigars are not banned at this time."

    Kretek International Inc., which imports Djarum-brand tobacco products from Indonesia, recently began importing cigars similar to the size of a cigarette and contain flavors such as clove and vanilla, in efforts to circumvent the ban, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Kretek did not immediately return a call from the Journal for comment.

    An FDA lawyer told the paper the FDA would look at "little cigars" and similar products on a "case-by-case basis."

    If a retailer, manufacturer, importer or wholesaler is found to violate this ban, the FDA said its general practice is to issue warning letters to firms before taking enforcement action, to notify firms that they or their products are in violation of the law, and to give them an opportunity to comply. However, the FDA added, "when circumstances are appropriate, FDA may take enforcement action to protect the public health without first issuing a warning letter."

    Related News:

    Tobacco Cos. Reassure Retailers Ahead of FDA Flavor Ban

    FDA Alerts Industry of Flavored Cigarette Deadline

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