FDA pulls cigarette brand from stores

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first time on Friday used its authority under a 2009 law to remove cigarettes from stores.

The FDA is forcing Jash International to stop selling and distributing its line of Sutra Bidi tobacco products in the U.S., and is giving retailers 30 days to pull the products from shelves.

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“Existing inventory may be subject to enforcement action, including seizure, without further notice,” the FDA said in a release. “Companies that continue to sell and distribute these products in the United States may be subject to enforcement actions by the FDA.”

The FDA said Jash did not submit updated applications for a line of cigarettes up for review under The Tobacco Control Act.

Companies with tobacco products on the market when the law passed in 2009 had until 2011 to prove they met new requirements. If they failed to do so, Congress gave the FDA the authority to declare the products illegal.

Friday marks the first time the FDA has ordered a manufacturer of cigarettes to withdraw a product from the market.

The tobacco industry has been under a sustained assault by the Obama administration and Democrats in recent months.

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In January, the surgeon general released a report detailing new health consequences related to smoking to mark the 50th anniversary of its landmark report tying smoking to lung cancer.

The surgeon general proposed new “end game” strategies aimed at the 42 million adult and 3 million young adult smokers in the U.S., such as hard-hitting media campaigns, tobacco excise taxes high enough to deter young smokers and easy-to-access cessation treatment.

Meanwhile, some retailers are also beginning to consider whether they want to sell cigarettes at all.

The drug store chain CVS Caremark earlier this month announced it would phase out cigarettes, chewing tobacco and cigars by Oct. 1.

"We've come to the conclusion that cigarettes have no place in a setting where health care is being delivered," said CVS Caremark CEO Larry Merlo.

Democrats are urging other stores to follow CVS’s lead, sending letters to Wal-Mart, Walgreen Co., Rite Aid Corp. and the National Association of Chain Drug Store urging them to stop sales of tobacco products.

In its Friday release, the FDA touted its new control over the tobacco industry.

“Historically, tobacco companies controlled which products came on and off the market without any oversight,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement.

“But the Tobacco Control Act gave the FDA, a science-based regulatory agency, the authority to review applications and determine which new tobacco products may be sold and distributed under the law in order to protect public health.”