ATF Ruling 76-11
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms held in ATF Ruling 75-10, ATF C.B. 1975, 54, that type equivalent to 6-point News Gothic Bold capitals must be used in the export notice on packages of cigarettes and cigars in order for the notice to be considered adequate under 27 CFR 290.185 and 290.252. Manufacturers of tobacco products have since asked that ATF accept an export notice printed in type more compact than that specified. They have also asked that we rule on whether a stamp, sticker, or notice required by a foreign country properly identifies that country for the purposes of 27 CFR 290.185 and 290.252 where the name of the country is printed in a foreign language.
After examining many proposals for export notices in a variety of type styles and sizes, the Bureau has concluded that a notice can be adequate when printed in a somewhat more compact type than that specified in ATF Ruling 75-10. Consequently, the following is essentially a restatement of that earlier ruling modified to recognize 6-point New Gothic Bold condensed capitals as an acceptable type size for the export notice, with additional information about the acceptability of certain stamps or notices required by foreign countries.
Section 5723(b) of Title 26, United States Code, provides in pertinent part that every package of cigarettes and cigars, shall, before removal, bear the marks, labels, and notices that the regulations prescribe. The regulations in 27 CFR 290.185 and 290.252 provide that every package of cigarettes and cigars shall, before removal for export without payment of tax, have adequately imprinted thereon, or on a label securely affixed thereto, the words "Tax-exempt. For use outside U.S.," or the words "U.S. Tax-exempt. For use outside U.S.," except where a stamp, sticker, or notice, required by a foreign country or a possession of the United States, which identifies such country or possession, is so imprinted or affixed.
It is the intent of law and regulations that the export notice, or alternative stamp, sticker, or notice required by a foreign country of U.S. possession, readily identify the packages and distinguish them from packages of taxpaid cigarettes and cigars for domestic consumption. To accomplish this, the notice must in included on the package in such a way that it is clearly visible and legible, which con only be achieved through a proper combination of type size, contrast, placement, and separation. It has been found that the required effect is sufficiently achieved by the export notice when (a) it is in a type equal to or larger than 6-point News Gothic Bold condensed capitals, (b) it significantly contrasts with the background, (c) it is visually distinctive from other matter on the package because of size, physical separation, color contrast, or distinctiveness of type style, and (d) in the case of all packages except the traditional 25 or 50 count cigar boxes, it appears on a package panel other than the bottom one. Consequently, it is held that the export notice must so appear on packages of cigarettes and cigars to be considered adequate under 27 CFR 290.185 and 290.252, except where the Director, on specific written application, finds that a notice which does not meet these specific criteria is, nevertheless, adequate because of package size, design, etc.
The regulations in 27 CFR 290.185 and 290.252 do not specify the language, alphabet, or manner in which the country or possession must be identified for a stamp, sticker, or notice required by a foreign country or United States possession to be acceptable, but the purpose of the generally prescribed, export notice, as indicated earlier, is to make export packages readily identifiable if they should be improperly introduced into domestic commerce. Consequently, such a stamp, sticker, or notice should likewise create a distinctiveness about the package which would be immediately recognized by the ordinary consumer.
It is therefore further held that identification of the foreign country or U.S. possession shall be in the English language, and may be accomplished by use of the full name of such country or possession, or by an accepted abbreviation which is distinctive and generally recognized within the United States as identifying that country or possession. However, identification may also be through the essentially complete name of the country or possession in a language other than English, if it is in such form that it would generally be recognized within the United States (e.g., "Espana" is generally recognized as identifying "Spain"). Also, such a stamp, sticker, or notice is considered acceptable in lieu of the prescribed notice if it both (a) identifies the foreign country or possession by an essentially complete name in language and/or alphabet other than English or modern Latin, respectively, and (b) is so distinctive that the package on which it appears would likely be recognized as out-of-place or inappropriate in domestic commerce. (Such distinctiveness might be created, for example, if a stamp were printed in an alphabet other than modern Latin.) Provided, however, that in every case the printed identification of the foreign country or U.S. possession on the stamp, sticker, or notice must be of sufficient size and contrast as to be readily and easily distinguished by a person familiar with the language in which printed. And provided further, that the manufacturer must have available at the factory at which used evidence that such stamp, sticker, or notice is required by the foreign country or U.S. possession in the form in which used, and, if not in the English language, the manufacturer must likewise have available an English translation of the full text for examination by ATF officers.
ATF Rul. 75-10, ATF C.B. 1975, 54, is superseded.
27 CFR 290.185