Why FDA demanded R.J. Reynolds pull 4 cigarette products from shelves

As of Tuesday, retailers are prohibited from selling Camel Crush Bold, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter Menthol, and Vantage Tech cigarettes, per order of the Food and Drug Administration.

Gene J. Puskar/AP/File
Camel Crush Bold cigarettes, a R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. brand, are on display at a Smoker Friendly shop in Pittsburgh, July 17. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday, banned sales of Camel Crush Bold and three other cigarette brands from R.J. Reynolds because they did not meet the agency’s safety review requirements.

The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday banned sale and distribution of four RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company cigarette products because they did not meet the agency's safety review requirements.

"These decisions were based on a rigorous, science-based review designed to protect the public from the harms caused by tobacco use," Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement. "The agency will continue to review product submissions and exercise it's legal authority and consumer protection duty to remove products from the market when they fail to meet the public health bar set forth under law."

The order comes three weeks after FDA told Reynolds and two of its rivals that they could not claim their products are "natural" or "additive-free" without regulatory approval.

In 2009 congress gave the FDA authority to regulate cigarettes. Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the FDA has the power to ban cigarettes and other tobacco products that its scientists believe pose greater public health risks than comparable products.

The banned brands are Camel Crush Bold, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter Menthol, and Vantage Tech.

The FDA said that the products were not the same as their predecessor brands. Specifically, the agency found that the four brands had higher amounts of harmful ingredients, higher levels of menthol, and the addition of new ingredients raised new questions for public health.

For instance, Camel Crush Bold cigarettes have menthol capsule in the filter that RJ Reynolds failed to show did not affect consumer perception and use.

The move by the FDA means it is illegal for retailers to sell or distribute the four cigarette brands and RJ Reynolds must dispose of them within 30 days or face financial penalties or criminal prosecution.  

Per the press release, “When the FDA issues an NSE order, the tobacco product in inventory, including at a retail location, becomes adulterated and misbranded. As a result, it is illegal to sell or distribute the product in interstate commerce, or sell or distribute the product received from interstate commerce. Doing so may result in the FDA initiating enforcement action, including seizure, without further notice.”

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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