New Cigarettes May Violate California Taste

Nabil Anas
Nabil Anas

Global Courant 2023-05-09 06:08:28

California Atty. General Rob Bonta has warned two tobacco companies that they may be violating the state’s ban on flavored products, a measure that was upheld by nearly two-thirds of voters last year.

RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. and ITG Brands received letters on April 25 from the Tobacco Unit of the California Department of Justice informing the companies that packaging and promotional materials for nine reformulated versions of Camel, Newport and Kool cigarettes violated state law and were suspected to be flavored are.

“As part of Atty. In General Bonta’s fight to protect the health and safety of California youth and to carry out the will of the people, our office continues to investigate tobacco products that may violate that law,” a Bonta spokesperson said in a statement. email statement.

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The companies have 60 days to respond to the letters and have indicated that they will do so, according to the spokesperson.

The 2022 law banned the sale of certain flavored tobacco products in stores and vending machines, aiming to discourage their use by children by eliminating child-friendly flavors such as bubble gum, cotton candy and cherry.

Lawmakers approved the statewide ban despite lobbying by the tobacco industry. The anti-flavor ban campaign raised millions of dollars, including funds from RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris USA.

Under the law, a tobacco product can be presumed to be flavored if it appears that the manufacturer made such claims through the labeling or packaging of its items.

The letter to RJ Reynolds said the company used brand names, text and colors “traditionally” associated with menthol-flavored tobacco products. The products reviewed also contained a non-tobacco “capsule” whose indicated labeling would produce a different taste.

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Promotional materials for the products suggested that these cigarettes would taste or smell different than an all-tobacco-flavored product, the letter said. The products targeted users of menthol-flavored tobacco products and were promoted as an alternative, the letter said.

A spokesperson for RJ Reynolds said in an emailed statement that the letters were “mistakenly issued” and that the products listed by the attorney general had no “identifiable taste or aroma other than tobacco.”

“We are marketing these products to clearly indicate that they are nonmenthol,” the statement said. “The letters only assume that the products have a distinctive taste, based solely on the assessment of packaging and promotional materials, not the products themselves.

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“We stand behind our products and will respond appropriately to the letters to ensure that these legal products remain available for sale.”

ITG Brands did not respond for comment.

By 2022, 16.5% of high school students and 4.5% of high school students — or 3.08 million — reported using a tobacco product in the past 30 days, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. Most students used flavored e-cigarettes, with fruit flavors being the most popular, according to the survey.

Massachusetts became the first state to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in 2019. New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island have banned flavored e-cigarettes.

New Cigarettes May Violate California Taste

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