National Association of Attorneys General

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AGs Zoeller and Miller Welcome Action by Federal Food and Drug Administration

Attorneys General Zoeller and Mills Welcome Action by Federal Food and Drug Administration Against Tobacco Manufacturers That Market Their Cigarettes as “Additive-Free” or “Natural”

Attorney General Greg Zoeller of Indiana and Attorney General Janet Mills of Maine, Co-Chairs of the Tobacco Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), today applauded the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) August 27 issuance of warning letters to three tobacco manufacturers, informing the manufacturers that they are violating federal law by marketing their cigarettes as “natural” and “additive-free.”

The manufacturers are ITG Brands LLC, which sells Winston cigarettes with the claim “Additive-free”; Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc., which sells Natural American Spirit cigarettes with the claims “Natural” and “Additive-free”; and Sherman’s 1400 Broadway N.Y.C. Ltd., which sells Nat Sherman cigarettes with the claim “Natural.” According to the FDA, these claims place the cigarettes in the category of “modified risk tobacco products” as defined by Section 911(b)(1) of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act. Such products may not be marketed unless the FDA has reviewed an application including scientific evidence purporting to support such claims and has issued an order permitting the products to be commercially marketed.

“We’ve been seeking FDA enforcement against these types of claims, and this is a welcome first step,” said Attorney General Zoeller. “It is important to protect our citizens against health-related claims for these lethal and addictive products so that they are not misled in the same way that consumers were misled by earlier claims for cigarettes marketed as ‘light’ and ‘low-tar.’ The FDA must continue to exercise its authority under the FD&C Act to prevent such deceptive claims. We trust that it will take the same action against other similar claims.”

“We look forward to the FDA finalizing its proposed regulations deeming other tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco to be within its jurisdiction,” said Attorney General Mills. “That will enable the FDA to ensure that such products receive the same scrutiny for modified risk tobacco product claims that the FDA is now giving to cigarettes like those for which the recent warning letters were sent.” The FDA proposed such deeming regulations in April of 2014. On June 11, 2015, Attorneys General Zoeller and Mills wrote the FDA, urging it to complete action promptly on the regulations.

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The state attorneys general have been active for many years in addressing the public health challenges posed by tobacco use in the United States. Through litigation initiated in the 1990s, the settlement of that litigation in the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 (“MSA”) and four separate state settlements, and enforcement of those agreements, state attorneys general have pursued three primary goals: holding the tobacco industry accountable for the harm its products inflict on society; placing restrictions on the industry’s advertising and promotional activities, particularly those targeted at youth; and educating citizens concerning the health consequences of tobacco use. The NAAG Tobacco Committee oversees the work of NAAG in coordinating and facilitating enforcement of the MSA pursuant to Section VIII of that Agreement and on other matters relating to tobacco.

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The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), www.naag.org, was founded in 1907 to help attorneys general fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions.

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