By Ricardo Carvajal –
Rep. Henry Waxman, Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg a letter urging the agency to investigate Kretek International’s (Kretek) marketing of clove-flavored cigars, and to ban flavored cigars that are “marketed for the purpose of circumventing” the recently effected ban on flavored cigarettes. FDA banned the sale of flavored cigarettes in September 2009 under the authority of the FDC Act, as amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act ("Tobacco Act"). The letter summarizes evidence of the dangers purportedly presented by clove-flavored tobacco products – including their use as “‘gateway’ products that introduce young people to smoking.” The letter then details what it terms “a plan to subvert the FDA ban on flavored cigarettes by introducing a nearly identical product as a flavored cigar,” based on the Committee’s review of voluminous records provided by Kretek in response to the Committee’s request. Although the letter gives no hint of how FDA could distinguish between flavored cigars marketed for the purpose of circumventing the ban on flavored cigarettes and those marketed for other (presumably legitimate) purposes, the letter might nonetheless find a welcoming ear at FDA. As we noted in a prior posting, the agency has already signaled its intent to go after flavored cigarettes masquerading as cigars.