Kretek International Inc., importer and distributor of Djarum clove cigars, today filed a request for declaratory judgment against the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in Federal District Court in Washington, DC.
The Kretek filing comes after the FDA signaled its intention to exceed its legislative authority to regulate flavored cigarettes in order to ban other tobacco products as well.
Beginning Sept. 22, 2009 a new FDA law prohibits cigarettes with a characterizing flavor other than tobacco or menthol, but cigars are not covered by the FDA’s new authority. The purpose of Kretek’s action is to prevent the FDA from moving against Kretek’s Djarum cigar products.
The Djarum cigars in question are the latest in a succession of clove cigar products distributed in the U. S. dating back to the 1990s. With the banning of market shipments of Djarum cigarettes, Kretek’s cigars have taken on additional prominence with distributors and retailers.
In 2007, the current Djarum cigars were classified by the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the U. S. Department of the Treasury as cigars under the code of federal regulations and an advanced ruling stating that they met the legal test as a cigar product was issued. The difference between cigarettes and cigars has been clearly defined by standing law for more than 30 years. This longstanding legal distinction between cigarettes and cigars was included as part of the new FDA law.
“We have made every effort to meet the letter and spirit of the law, and to ensure that these products are displayed in the cigar section of the tobacco counter. The Djarum product is clearly labeled as a cigar in at least seven places on the pack, in addition to clear merchandising messaging,” said John Geoghegan of Kretek.