The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has halted all sales of four cigarette products from the R. J. Reynolds company. The government agency says that the company has not proved that they were not more harmful than products already on the market.
The four cigarettes affected are Camel Crush Bold, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter Menthol, and Vantage Tech 13. Any store selling the products must stop sales immediately and dispose of them within 30 days or face financial penalties or criminal prosecution.
Since 2009, the FDA has had jurisdiction over the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products that it believes have greater health risks to the public than similar products on the market. Before 2009, when the FDA gained responsibility for tobacco products, tobacco companies could make changes to existing products and introduce new ones at will.
However, these four products were introduced during a grace period that had been set up when the FDA took over regulating tobacco products. That grace period ended in 2011. R. J. Reynolds applied for what is called substantial equivalence status for the products at that time. To be considered substantially equivalent, tobacco products must be shown to have the same characteristics as another product already on the market or that they raise no new issues for public health.
Hundreds of applications for substantial equivalent status have been made to the FDA since 2009, and it has allowed brands to stay on the market about twice as often as it has blocked brands, according to FDA officials.
However, the agency ruled these four R. J. Reynolds products were not the same as their predecessor brands, which may mean that they are more harmful. The FDA considered ingredients, engineering, of the products and how these could influence the cigarettes' toxicity, addictiveness, or appeal to smokers. For example, there is a menthol capsule in the filter of Camel Crush Bold cigarettes filter that could make the cigarette more appealing for consumers.
In a statement, R. J. Reynolds said it "strongly disagrees" with the decision.