The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered four tobacco products removed from the market, the first time the agency has done so since being given the legal authority in 2009.
Agency officials said Friday that four cigarette brands made by Jash International may no longer be domestically sold, distributed or imported. They are Sutra Bidis Red, Sutra Bidis Menthol, Sutra Bidis Red Cone and Sutra Bidis Menthol Cone. In 30 days, the FDA will begin seizing any goods that remain on shelves.
The unconventional cigarettes are bidis: thin, hand-rolled cigarettes stuffed with tobacco, wrapped in leaves from a tendu tree and sometimes tied with a colorful string. Popular in India, bidis are not widely smoked in the U.S., but their novelty appeals to some adolescents.
“It’s a big deal,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy group. “This is the first time the FDA has ever ordered a product to be removed from the market for broad public-health concerns.
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“It’s also significant that they did so because the manufacturer was unable or unwilling to provide sufficient evidence that the product didn’t raise new or different concerns for public health.”
Since June 2013, the FDA has rejected 16 new tobacco products because agency scientists believed they posed health risks above and beyond comparable products on the market.
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 1.7 percent of middle-school students and 2 percent of high-school students were bidi smokers.