Kretek International filed suit to prevent FDA from banning flavored cigars...

September 24, 2009 - Kretek International Inc.(KI) filed suit Wednesday in federal court to prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from banning flavored cigars. KI, the nation's top distributor of clove cigarettes (97 percent of U.S. market) is offering fans a new way to get their fix after the spice-flavored cigarettes were banned on September 22nd.

The suit comes a day after a ban on flavored cigarettes took effect and after FDA officials warned companies not to try to circumvent the ban by introducing little cigars or other products similar to cigarettes. John Geoghegan, Kretek's director of product development, said the company stopped importing flavored cigarettes several weeks ago.

The tobacco law allows the FDA to regulate cigars but requires the agency to first issue regulations deeming cigars to be subject to the law, a process that could take years. But Lawrence Deyton, director of FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, explained that the federal definition of a cigarette includes "any roll of tobacco wrapped in paper," suggesting certain cigars could immediately fall under the ban. (A cigar - any roll of tobacco wrapped in tobacco.)

A cigar is a tobacco leaf wrapped around a tobacco leaf filling. Kretek - noted that the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau classified its Djarum clove-flavored cigars as cigars under federal law in 2007. "The difference between cigarettes and cigars has been clearly defined by standing law for more than 30 years," the company said.

Mr. Geoghegan said Kretek has been importing clove-flavored cigars for several years, but because of the banning of market shipments of Djarum cigarettes, distributor and retailer focus on Kretek's cigars has taken additional prominence." He said the company didn't just start importing cigars to get around the ban on flavored cigarettes.

The New Clove Cigars..

An FDA-lawyer said the FDA would look at "little cigars" and similar products on a "case-by-case basis."

The word "kretek" is a term for the crackling sound of burning cloves.

Related news brief - Kretek International- U.S. - Importer tries to get around clove cigarettes ban...

Reference: Kretek Seeks to Head Off Ban on Flavored Cigars by JENNIFER CORBETT DOOREN (Alicia Mundy contributed to this article), The Wall Street Journal, 9/24/2009, also the expanded printed version of the same article, The Wall Street Journal, September 24, 2009 - pg. B-2; Sometimes a Cigar Is Just a Cigar Kretek asks federal court to prevent FDA action against flavored cigars, CSP Daily News, 9/24/2009.