For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has ordered a major tobacco company to stop selling brands of cigarettes.
The FDA on Tuesday ordered the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to stop selling for brands: Camel Bold Crush, Vantage Tech 13 and the regular and menthol versions of Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter cigarettes.
The FDA has ordered other cigarettes off the market before, but those actions involved much smaller companies selling much less popular cigarettes.
The agency says it took the action because R.J. Reynolds had failed to prove the brands were no more dangerous than brands that have been on the market longer.
"These decisions were based on a rigorous, science-based review designed to protect the public from the harms caused by tobacco use," Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement. "The agency will continue to review product submissions and exercise it's legal authority and consumer protection duty to remove products from the market when they fail to meet the public health bar set forth under law."
Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate cigarettes for the first time in 2009. Among the agency's new powers are the authority to require new brands to prove they pose no more risks to smokers than cigarettes that were put on the market before Feb. 15, 2007.
The FDA says R.J. Reynolds had failed to show the four brands that have been ordered off the market do not expose smokers to more harmful chemicals, higher levels of menthol or new ingredients.
R.J. Reynolds didn't immediately respond to a request to comment.