FDA Stops Sale of Sutra Bidis Cigarettes
February 21 — In a first for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the sale of four tobacco products on store shelves was snuffed out today.
The FDA ordered retailers to stop selling four types of Sutra-branded cigarettes.
The agency took action against the hand-rolled cigarettes, known as bidis, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Sutra Bidis Red, Sutra Bidis Menthol, Sutra Bidis Red Cone, and Sutra Bidis Menthol Cone do not meet the standards for commercially marketed tobacco, so they can no longer be imported into the United States.
Jenny Haliski, a spokesperson with the FDA says the cigarette’s manufacturer, Jash International — an Indian company with offices in East-Dundee, Ill. — did not provide enough information for federal officials to determine if the product met public health standards.
“Today is the first time that we’re saying that a currently-marketed product can no longer be marketed or sold,” Haliski says. “So, it’s not a situation where a product is not safe anymore or that it’s been recalled. It’s a case of the company not meeting the requirements under the law.”
Experts say the law gives federal officials oversight traditionally toted by tobacco companies.
“The Tobacco Control Act gave the FDA, a science-based regulatory agency, the authority to review applications and determine which new tobacco products may be sold and distributed under the law in order to protect public health.” says Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
Haliski says Jash had an application pending with the FDA, so they were allowed to market the product, but the FDA now considers the cigarettes “misbranded and unadulterated.”
The FDA says it is working with the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy to conduct inspections statewide to make sure storeowners are clearing the cigarettes off area store shelves.
She confirms letters went out to retailers warning them about the product and says they have thirty days to rid their store of the inventory.
Consumers can find a form to report suspected tobacco violations on the FDA’s website.
By: Hilary Powell