FDA Warns 4 Tobacco Makers To Stop Selling Flavored Cigarettes Labeled As Cigars

Image courtesy of Eva_Deht

If you want to sell an illegal product, simply slapping on a different label won’t magically make it legal. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration is ordering four tobacco manufacturers to stop selling flavored cigarettes labeled as “little cigars” or “cigars.”

The agency sent letters to Swisher International, Cheyenne International, Prime Time International Distributing, Inc., and Southern Cross Tobacco Company, Inc., for products under the “Swisher Sweets,” Cheyenne,” “Prime Time” and “Criss-Cross” brands in a variety of “youth-appealing flavors,” including grape, cherry, wild cherry, and strawberry, the FDA says.

This is a big no-no, as it’s a violation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to sell flavored cigarettes. However, only four states have restrictions on the sales of little cigars that taste of candy, fruit, or cloves.

“Flavored 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,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

He adds that because around 90% of adult daily smokers tried their first cigarette by age 18, it’s important to keep enforcing the ban on flavored cigarettes that might tempt minors into smoking.

The FDA says that even if the products are labeled “little cigars” or “cigars,” they still meet the definition of cigarettes, “because they are likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers as cigarettes based on their overall presentation, appearance, and packaging and labeling.”

Not only that, but because they’re considered cigarettes, they’re adulterated because they contain a natural or artificial flavor. If they don’t, then they’re misbranded, the FDA says.

The agency has asked the companies to respond to the warning letters within 15 days of receiving it. If they don’t comply with the law, they could be facing further action including civil money penalties, criminal prosecution, seizure, and/or injunction.