Rev. Ruling 69-488

Samples of several brands of a smoking product manufactured in India have been received with requests for advice as to the internal revenue tax applicable. The product is variously known as "bidi," "beedi," and "biri."

All samples examined were tapered or cone shaped, two, or three inches long, with tobacco flakes as the filler, and wrapped in a leaf held together by a thread. The wrapper leaf was not tobacco. Some of the samples had a plastic holder affixed which could be easily removed. This allowed the product to be smoked with or without the holder.

Section 5702(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 defines a cigarette as "(1) any roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or in any substance not containing tobacco, and (2) any roll of tobacco wrapped in any substance containing tobacco which, because of its appearance, the type of tobacco used in the filler, or its packaging and labeling, is likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers as a cigarette described in paragraph (1)."

The samples of the smoking product examined are rolls of tobacco wrapped in a "substance not containing tobacco" as contemplated by section 5702(b) of the Code, and are accordingly held to be cigarettes as defined in that section and subject to the tax imposed on cigarettes by section 5701(b) upon importation into the United States.

26 U.S.C. 5702; 27 CFR 275.11