Also issues 10,000th tobacco retailer warning letter
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) tobacco compliance and enforcement program–touting that it recently issued its 10,000th tobacco retailer warning letter–has also issued warning letters to three tobacco manufacturers and one tobacco retailer for promoting or selling illegal cigarette or roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco products labeled as “pipe tobacco.”
These tobacco products were found to be subject to FDA regulation, and as such, the warning letters include violations for selling modified-risk tobacco products without an order in effect or selling prohibited flavored cigarette tobacco products, the agency said in a press release.
Tobacco critics claim that manufacturers and retailers are misbranding the products to avoid paying the higher federal taxes that currently apply to RYO tobacco, but not to pipe tobacco.
The letters contain variations on the following:
“We note that under the ‘Pipe Tobacco’ section of your website, you present graphic images of the product brands … which are promoted or labeled as ‘pipe tobacco’; however, the overall presentation of these products strongly suggests that they are intended for use in a cigarette. Specifically, in your ‘Pipe Tobacco’ section of the website, you promote these product brands for sale with cigarette-injector machines or as part of roll-your-own starter packages or starter kits, which include tobacco, cigarette tubes and a cigarette machine. This presentation suggests that your products are intended to be used to make cigarettes with the cigarette machines and cigarette tubes with which you promote them. Because the overall presentation of your products, which consist of loose tobacco, suggests that they are intended for use in cigarettes, they meet the FD&C Act’s definition of ‘cigarette tobacco’.”
In 2009, the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) established a state enforcement program under which FDA awards contracts to states and territories to assist with inspections of tobacco retail establishments. As of July 31, 2013, it has contracts with 45 states, territories and the District of Columbia and has conducted more than 189,000 inspections of tobacco product retailers, it said.