FDA warns stores not to sell flavored cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration has sent warning letters to several online retailers of cigarettes, notifying them that FDAthey have been suspected in infringing certain provision of Tobacco Control Act concerning prohibition on selling flavored cigarettes to US customers.

The retailers are given two weeks to demonstrate that they have stopped selling prohibited products or could be charged.

The ban on sales of flavored cigarettes, excluding the menthol ones became legal on September 22, 2009.

The ban is part of landmark Tobacco Control Act which was adopted in June and provided the FDA with the authority to regulate tobacco industry. The legislation includes revealing the contents of tobacco products, restricting advertisements of tobacco products, banning such terms as “light”, “mild” and “low-tar” that make people think that the products with such names have been healthier than other tobacco products

The letter were sent to 13 online tobacco stores, which according to the FDA reports, keep selling flavored cigarettes to US citizens in violation of the law.

The information about these retailers was collected by the FDA’s Enforcement Department and recently launched Center for Tobacco Products, which deals with tracking compliance with the legislation and penalizing the offenders.

Letters, similar to those sent to online retailers, were also sent to domestic tobacco companies and importers, in order to remind them of the ban on flavored cigarettes sales and potential legal action for the offenders of that ban.

Among the online sellers were both those who are based in the USA and outside of the country but selling tobacco products to US customer over the Web. The letters contained the provision of Tobacco Control Act saying that any cigarette shall not include any natural or artificial flavoring agent (besides menthol), or a spice or an herb that gives a particular flavor to cigarette or its smoke.

In case the cigarettes available on the seller’s online store do include such flavors, according to the letter, that are considered as defected or counterfeited products and are bound to penalty. In case such products found to contain no flavoring agents, but are labeled as flavored, they are also bound to penalties of the Food and Drug Administration.

Retailers not located in the country were notified that the FDA will track their shipments and halt it at the Customs. In addition, the agency would warn the officials in the home countries of those merchants that the prohibited products will not be allowed to enter the USA.

In other news, a U.S. District Court decided last week that tobacco industry has no possibility to halt certain provision of Tobacco Control Act. The plaintiffs stated that the legislation severely limits their right of commercial free speech and ability to introduce new products to the adult smokers, including smoke-free products and electronic cigarettes.

The decision indicated that tobacco companies will have to comply with the new regulations concerning the manufacture and marketing of their products.

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