Commonwealth Brands in 'Disbelief' Over FDA Regs..

March 22, 2010 - Claim Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ignoring industry it is supposed to be regulating

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- Commonwealth Brands Inc., the nation's fourth largest tobacco manufacturer is in "disbelief" over the Food & Drug Administration's publication of the 1996 rules in the Federal Register. On March 18, 2010, the FDA published the reissued 1996 rules that seek to clarify and enforce marketing, advertising and promotion restrictions of tobacco products. (See - U.S. FDA publishes rules to protect our children that restrict advertising and marketing of tobacco products..

Anthony Hemsley, vice president of corporate and government affairs, said, "Commonwealth Brands Inc. fully supports measures that are specifically aimed at preventing youth smoking; however, the [FDA] continues to ignore the very industry it is supposed to be regulating. Despite numerous requests for meetings and consultation, our legitimacy and expertise is sidelined."

He added, "The only way to create meaningful and proportionate regulations is to involve the industry. Issuing rules that only serve to jeopardize a legal industry that contributes billions of dollars in excise taxes, employs thousands of people across the states and maintains a supply chain involving thousands of retailers and distributors makes absolutely no sense whatsoever."

Two of the rules' provisions have already been proven to be unconstitutional by the courts and a third that seeks to remove many tobacco brand names from the market is clearly also against the industry's constitutional rights, the company said.

Hemsley said, "How many times must we resolve these constitutional issues in the courtroom? How much taxpayers' money must the FDA waste before a judge? And how long will it be before the FDA accepts the legal rights and input from the tobacco industry, which may well avoid unnecessary expenditure and time in court?"

"It is fundamentally wrong for the FDA to treat the tobacco industry differently from the other industries it regulates. Instead of forming a relationship to develop reasonable goals, the FDA appears solely interested in listening to vociferous, anti tobacco activists that have no concern for our adult consumers that purchase our legal products, or the viability or potential unintended consequences of what they are recommending."

Commonwealth Brands' cigarettes include Davidoff, Sonoma, Montclair and USA Gold. Its portfolio of tobaccos consists of the Premier, McClintock, Rave and Bali Shag brands. Commonwealth Brands, based in Bowling Green, Ky., and employs more than 900 people across all 50 states.

Reference: Commonwealth Brands in 'Disbelief' Over FDA Regs Food & Drug Administration ignoring industry it is supposed to be regulating, Convenience Store/Petroleum (CSP) Daily News, 3/22/2010.

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