United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
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HQ 084808

September 12,1989

CLA-2- CO:R:C:G 084808 JGH


TARIFF NO.: 2401.20.80

Mr. W. H. Berry
Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp.
1500 Brown & Williamson Tower
P.O.Box 35090
Louisville, Kentucky 40232

RE: Threshed Cigarette Leaf Tobacco

Dear Mr. Berry:

Your letter of May 9, 1989, concerns the classification of a certain type of threshed cigarette leaf tobacco under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The tobacco lamina is said to be processed to a particle size which passes through a one-eighth clear opening screen and would be retained on top of a 12 mesh screen. It is said to be used in producing homogenized or reconstituted tobacco.


Whether stemmed cigarette leaf tobacco which has been reduced to a particle size of one-eighth inch is classifiable as tobacco refuse in subheading 2401.30.90, HTSUS, or as other stemmed tobacco, threshed or similarly processed in subheading 2401.20.80, HTSUS.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). Under GRI 1 classification is determined according the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. The Explanatory Notes are the official interpretation of the HTSUS at the international level. The Explanatory Notes to heading 2401 state that the heading
includes stemmed/stripped, trimmed or untrimmed, broken or cut tobacco. Tobacco refuse is described as waste resulting from the manipulation of tobacco leaves, or from the manufacture of tobacco products (stalks, stems,midribs, trimmings, dust, etc.).

In describing the stemming of leaf tobacco, The U.S. Agricultural Marketing Service states that the bulk of stemming is done by "tipping and threshing". This is a process which involves the leaf tobacco passing though of series of rotary knives and separaters which not only remove much of the stem but ultimately reduce the leaf to small pieces. The definition of stemmed cigarette leaf includes the product of the threshing process, and the fact that it has been greatly reduced in size does not change its identity as stemmed leaf.

As noted by the court in Kuehne & Nagel, Inc. v. United States, (Slip Op. 86-138, dated December 22, 1986), leaf tobacco is defined in 7 C.F.R. 30.2 as tobacco in the forms in which it appears between the time it is cured and stripped from the stalk, or primed and cured, and the time it enters into the different manufacturing processes. The acts of stemming, sweating or fermenting, and conditioning are not regarded as manufacturing processes. Leaf tobacco does not include any manufactured or semimanufactured tobacco, stems which have been removed from leaves, cuttings, clippings, trimmings, shorts or dust. The implication, said the court, is that all unmanufactured tobacco is 'leaf tobacco," except stems and "by-product." As seen from the definition in the explanatory notes, this product would not be considered tobacco refuse, nor is it a by-product.


Threshed cigarette leaf tobacco reduced to the particle size indicated is classifiable under subheading 2401.20.80, HTSUS.


John Durant, Director

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