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Tobacco Co. Objects to Ban on Flavored Papers

PHOENIX (CN) - The Food & Drug Administration overstepped its authority to regulate flavored cigarettes by banning the flavored rolling papers that are sold separately, a tobacco retailer claims in a federal lawsuit.

BBK Tobacco & Foods, a distributor and seller of flavored papers, says the FDA is trying to "expand its authority to regulate cigarettes containing 'characterizing flavors' under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act."

The Act, signed on June 22, provides that "a cigarette or any of its component parts ... shall not contain, as a constituent or additive, an artificial or natural flavor," but allegedly made no mention of flavored papers that are sold separately.

According to BBK Tobacco, the Act's definition of cigarette includes products that contain tobacco. Flavored paper sold separately does not include tobacco, BBK Tobacco argues, and therefore should not be included in the Act.

The company says its sales of flavored papers comprise a "significant portion" of annual profits, and the Act has had a "devastating impact" on its business.

It seeks an order declaring that U.S. agencies "have no authority to regulate flavored papers sold separately under the Act," plus an injunction blocking the government from banning the papers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg and DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are also named as defendants.

BBK Tobacco is represented by Joel Sannes of Lake & Cobb in Tempe, Ariz.

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