CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 951262 CRS

Area Director of Customs
New York Seaport
6 World Trade Center
New York, NY 10048

RE: Cigarette filter rods made of textile wadding and activated charcoal; HRL 086978; NYRL 836602.

Dear Sir:

This is in reply to a memorandum dated March 2, 1992, from the Chief, National Import Specialist Branch 3, New York Seaport, concerning a difference of opinion filed on Customs Form (CF) 6431. The difference originated at the port of Charleston, South Carolina, and seeks to reconcile the decision in Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 086978 of July 9, 1990, with that in New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 836602 of February 17, 1989. Our decision follows below.


The merchandise at issue consists of cigarette filter rods. At issue in NYRL 836602 was the classification of cigarette filter rods made from segments of white cellulose acetate fibers, and segments of black cellulose acetate fibers interspersed with activated charcoal particles, wrapped in lightweight plain white paper. The rods measured approximately 3 1/2 inches in length and 5/16 of an inch in diameter. The white segments measured approximately 5/8 of an inch in length, while the black segments were approximately 1/2 an inch in length. The individual rods were made up of three black and two white segments, with the black segments forming the outer and center portions of the rods. The filter rods were classified as other made up textile articles of subheading 6307.90.9030, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).

In contrast, in HRL 086978, cigarette filter rods made from a wadding of man-made fibers, wrapped in plain paper, and measuring approximately 0.75 cm in diameter and from between 9.0 cm and 10.0 cm in length, were classified as articles of wadding of subheading 5601.22.0090, HTSUSA. These filter rods did not contain any charcoal. This office has been asked to resolve the difference in the classification of the cigarette filter rods described above.

A sample filter rod imported under NYRL 836602 was submitted for laboratory examination. As the result of this examination, it has been confirmed that the principal constituent material of the cigarette filter rods, identified in NYRL 836602 as "cellulose acetate," is a textile material of man-made fibers. In addition, laboratory examination has established that the instant filter rod consists of a textile portion composed solely of man-made fibers, and a textile and charcoal portion composed of man-made fibers interspersed throughout with activated charcoal.


The issue presented is whether cigarette filter rods made of man-made tow fiber, activated charcoal and plug wrap paper are classifiable as articles of wadding, as other made up articles of textiles, or as articles of other mineral substances.


The cigarette filter rods at issue are made from wadding of man-made fibers or wadding and activated charcoal. Heading 5601, HTSUSA, provides, inter alia, for articles of wadding. According to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN), which although not legally binding, constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level, the scope of the heading includes:

[W]adding in the piece or cut to length, and articles of wadding other than those covered more specifically by other headings of the Nomenclature....

On this basis we held in HRL 086978 that cigarette filter rods wrapped in paper but otherwise made entirely from a wadding of man-made fibers were classifiable as an article of wadding of heading 5601.

This view was also based on a 1987 decision of the Interim Harmonized System Committee which examined the classification of cigarette filter rods. The Committee agreed by a large majority that filter rods were classifiable in heading 5601 rather than in heading 6307. NC/58/May 87; IHSC/8/May 87. However, while the Committee reached its decision on the grounds of GRI 4 (kinship), the U.S. Administration is of the opinion that classification in heading 5601 is sustainable purely by virtue of the terms of the headings, i.e., by GRI 1. We continue to adhere to this view.

The cigarette filter rods of NYRL 836602 differ from those at issue in HRL 086978, however, in that activated charcoal and man-made fiber wadding are combined in the former. Pursuant to General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 2(b), goods consisting of more than one material or substance, if prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, are to be classified according to the principles of GRI 3.

GRI 3(a) states that when goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, the heading that provides the most specific description is to be preferred over those headings offering a more general description. However, when two or more prima facie applicable headings refer only to part of the materials contained in a composite good, they are regarded as equally specific under GRI 3(a).

In addition to heading 5601, several other headings are therefore potentially relevant with regard to the classification of filter rods made from wadding of man-made fiber and activated charcoal: heading 3802, HTSUSA, which provides, inter alia, for activated carbon; heading 6815, HTSUSA, which provides for articles of stone or of other mineral substances...not elsewhere specified or included; and heading 6307, HTSUSA, which provides for other made up (textile) articles, including dress patterns.

The cigarette filter rods of NYRL 836602 are composite articles consisting of paper, activated charcoal and man-made fibers. Heading 3802 covers activated carbon, including charcoal. EN 38.02(II)(a), 520. However, Customs does not consider the cigarette filter rod in question to be prima facie classifiable in heading 3802, since this provision does not cover articles of activated carbon, but merely the substance itself.

Heading 5601 provides for wadding of textile materials and articles thereof. The NYRL 836602 (composite) cigarette filter rods were made in part from wadding of man-made fibers. Heading 5601 is therefore prima facie applicable to the merchandise in question, since it refers to one of the constituent materials contained in the article.

Heading 6307 is a residual provision covering made up articles of textile material not more specifically included in other headings of Section XI or elsewhere in the nomenclature. (EN) 63.07, 867. The textile component of the instant cigarette filter rods is provided for in heading 5601. Accordingly, heading 6307 does not merit further consideration.

Heading 6815 is a residual provision that covers articles of mineral substances, including carbon, that are not covered by the other headings of Chapter 68, or elsewhere in the nomenclature. EN 68.15, 909. The filter rods at issue in NYRL 836602 contained activated charcoal, a mineral substance. Since heading 6815 also refers to one of the materials contained in the composite filter rods, it is prima facie applicable under GRI 2(b).

Thus of the headings under consideration, two, heading 5601 and heading 6815, are prima facie applicable to the composite cigarette filter rods. However, under GRI 3(a), both are equally specific since they refer only to part of the materials contained in the composite article.

Composite goods consisting of different materials are to be classified as if they consisted of the material which gives them their essential character. In the ruling request dated February 2, 1989, which resulted in NYRL 836602, it was stated that the activated charcoal, as well as the paper used in the manufacture of the instant composite cigarette filter rods, was secondary in content and value to the value and content of the man-made fibers. Accordingly, Customs considers that wadding comprises the essential character of the composite cigarette filter rods at issue, and that consequently, the filter rods are classifiable under the provision for articles of wadding of heading 5601.


Cigarette filter rods made either from wadding of man-made textile fibers or from wadding of man-made textile fibers combined with activated charcoal, are classifiable in subheading 5601.22.0090, HTSUSA, under the provision for wadding; other articles of wadding: of man-made fibers: other. They are dutiable at the rate of 12.5 percent ad valorem.

NYRL 836602 dated February 17, 1989, will be revoked under separate cover.


John Durant, Director