Clove Cigarettes Banned: Enter Clove 'Small Cigars'

FDA, importer disagree over definition of a cigarette
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2009 4:05 PM CDT
In this photo made Aug. 18, 2009, Djarum Black cigars, left, and cigarettes are shown in Richmond, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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(Newser) – For one California importer of smokes, an awful lot has come to rest on the precise definition of a cigar. After a ban on clove cigarettes went into effect last month, Kretek International slyly began importing Djarum-brand clove “small cigars." They're quite similar to Djarum’s clove cigarettes, though they come in a box of 12—not 20—and are labeled as cigars. The FDA has warned against such steps to sidestep the ban.

In response, Kretek filed a complaint with the regulator, accusing it of "deliberately obfuscating" the "definition of cigarette," the Wall Street Journal reports. "If a product is a cigar, it is not a cigarette and vice versa," says the complaint. "Kretek contends that Djarum cigars are cigars"—though the label promises "a smoking experience you have come to expect." A House panel has begun its own investigation into the battle of semantics.