Kretek Drops Lawsuit Against FDA

MOORPARK, Calif. -- Kretek International Inc., importer and marketer of Djarum clove cigars, withdrew its lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the distribution and sale of clove cigar products, following statements by the agency indicating it will only take enforcement action against products that meet the legal definition of a cigarette.

Kretek in September 2009 filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking a declaration that a ban on flavored tobacco products applied to cigarettes rather than to cigars. Then, on Dec. 23, 2009, the FDA placed a question and answer document on its Web site regarding the regulation of flavored tobacco products, which Kretek said makes it clear that the FDA will only be taking enforcement actions against tobacco products that meet the legal definition of a cigarette.

The U.S. Department of Treasury already determined that Djarum clove cigars meet the legal definition of a cigar, and as such, the FDA's document provided Kretek with the assurances it was seeking through its lawsuit, the company stated. Because of this, Kretek 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," Kretek CEO Mark Cassar said in a statement. "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."

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