Kretek International Inc., importer and marketer of Djarum clove cigars has withdrawn its lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), regarding the distribution and sale of clove cigar products.
In light of statements made by the FDA, Kretek in September of 2009 filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking a declaration that the recently enacted ban on flavored tobacco products applied to cigarettes rather than to cigars.
On Dec. 23, 2009, the FDA placed a Q&A on its Web site discussing how it would regulate flavored tobacco products. The Q&A makes it clear that FDA will only be taking enforcement actions against tobacco products that meet the legal definition of a cigarette.
Because the U.S. Department of Treasury has already determined that Djarum clove cigars meet the legal definition of a cigar, the FDA’s Q&A has provided Kretek with the assurances it was seeking through its lawsuit. As a result, Kretek has decided to drop its legal action while reserving its option to re-file at some future date.
“FDA’s Q&A will benefit the entire industry,” stated Kretek CEO Mark Cassar. “We did not want to see three years of cigar product development negated by a hasty interpretation of the ban on flavored tobacco products and I am pleased that the Agency has not only taken the time to get this issue right, but has also decided to share its views with the entire industry.”
Kretek discontinued selling clove flavored cigarettes in advance of the ban to allow its distributors and retailers time to return product for destruction. Kretek also voluntarily assisted the FDA during the fall of 2009 by issuing reminder warnings to tobacco distributors and retailers of the cut-off date for interstate commerce and sale of flavored cigarettes.