FDA cracks down on flavored cigarettes labeled as cigars

FDA cracks down on flavored cigarettes labeled as cigars
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The Obama administration is cracking down on tobacco companies selling flavored cigarettes labeled as "cigars" or "little cigars."

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday sent letters to Swisher International, Inc., Cheyenne International LLC, Prime Time International Distributing, Inc., and Southern Cross Tobacco Company Inc. warning that certain products were in violation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

The 2009 law banned the sale of cigarettes sold in candy or fruit flavors to reduce the number of youth who start smoking and become addicted to dangerous tobacco products. 

The FDA said the products, labeled as "little cigars" or "cigars," were sold 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.

Because they were likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers of cigarettes based on their overall presentation, appearance, packaging and labeling, the agency said the products met the definition of cigarettes under the law.

“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,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement.

“Because about 90 percent of adult daily smokers smoked their first cigarette by the age of 18, continued enforcement of the ban on cigarettes with characterizing flavors is vital to protect future generations from a lifetime of addiction.”

The companies were given 15 days to send a letter of response detailing what actions they’ve taken to bring their products into compliance with the law.