Official warning from FDA to the Tobacco manufacturers

Four American tobacco manufacturers have come under fire from the FDA for illegally distributing flavoured cigarettes and labelling them as little cigars or cigars. The companies include Cheyenne International LLC, Prime Time International Co, Southern Cross Tobacco Company Inc, and Swisher International Inc.

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Legal proceedings

Warning letters were issued to the companies on 9 December 2016 after it was discovered by the FDA that they were violating the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The act states that while selling flavoured cigars and menthol is legal, any sales of flavoured cigarettes break the law. The FDA’s warning to the four companies came with a 15-day response allowance and demonstrates the administration’s tough crackdown on the practice. Failure to correct the violations would result in further legal action.

The products, which came in a range of flavours including strawberry, cherry, wild cherry and grape, have been deemed dangerous due to their youth-appeal. Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, has expressed that while the law has prohibited candy- and fruit-flavoured cigarettes, “a number of tobacco companies made minor changes to these products and then marketed them as cigars to undermine the intent of the law.”

The warnings are not without complications, as both Cheyenne and Swisher claim to be cigar companies that do not sell cigarettes, according to the Cigar Association of America.

Implications and further action

Consumers and professionals in the industry are encouraged to get in touch with the FDA to report any potential violations of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

There is increased anxiety over the use of cigarettes in young people to prevent addiction continuing through adulthood. Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Centre for Tobacco Products, explained: “Flavoured cigarettes appeal to kids and disguise the bad taste of tobacco, but they are just as addictive as regular tobacco products and have the same harmful health effects.”

Although the products involved in this warning were labelled as little cigars or cigars, the FDA found this claim to be false. The products were satisfied of fulfilling the definition of cigarettes due to their labelling, packaging and general presentation.

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