The tag is present in Lintian version 2.109.24. That is the most recent version we know about.
The latest entry in NEWS.Debian appears to use asterisks to present changes in a bulleted list, similar to the normal changelog syntax. The Debian Developer's Reference recommends using regular paragraphs in NEWS.Debian rather than a bulleted list.
Please refer to Debian Developer's Reference section 6.3.4 for details.