STOP - the Proliferation of Flavored Tobacco Products..

October 16, 2008 - We must stop the proliferation of flavored tobacco products. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) early in 2009 will introduce three dissolvable smokeless products -- a pellet (Camel Orbs), a twisted stick the size of a toothpick (Camel Sticks) and a film strip for the tongue (Camel Strips). Reynolds should know by now that these flavored products will increase the incidence of tobacco use among children.

In October 2006, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and the Attorneys General of thirty-eight states entered into a settlement agreement that prohibited the sale and distribution of flavored (candy, fruit, and alcohol) tobacco products manufactured and sold by the company. Prohibits the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products.

In the past nine years, socially responsible Reynolds has expanded its flagship brand Camel through such introductions as Camel Exotic Blends, Camel No. 9 and Camel Signature. Lately Reynolds has been promoting Camel Snus, a smokeless product that is being promoted as the industry's best bet in a post-smoking environment.

Professor John Britton, chairman of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, a proponent of using smokeless tobacco as a harm reduction solution has admitted the job of tobacco companies is to sell as much tobacco as possible, so they will be targeting non-smokers rather than current ones, that's the worry. (Tobacco Cessation Forum..)

John Sweeney, the director of the sports-communication program at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said "If the ads surround Camel Sticks with bursts of color and youth-oriented language, there will be a social uprising. On the other hand, if the advertising is adult in orientation and quietly informative, the product may be left to find its way." Michelle Roehm, an associate marketing professor at Wake Forest University, said that she likes the packaging design. "It appears to mimic the shapes and sizes of PDA devices that we're all accustomed to carrying around these days." Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said, "These products are flavored and packaged like candy, and very likely will appeal to children."

What do you think it will be?? Let's look back how RJR promoted Camel SNUS. The tag line is “Pleasure for Wherever Whenever.” Mitch Zeller, a health policy consultant who was director of the Office of Tobacco Programs at the FDA during the Clinton Administration, said the web site for Camel Snus "seems aimed at young adult males to get them to start using products." The site says Reynolds found Snus in Sweden, "home of the world's best meatballs, massage and blondes." Back in June 2006 RJR started the test marketing of Camel SNUS in Portland, OR and Austin TX. Kylie Meiner, the tobacco prevention coordinator for Multnomah County where Portland is located is convinced that the marketing of Camel SNUS is aimed at young people. One direct mail item she received read “Camel Snus – be the 1st on your block to try it” (Portland Tribune, 11/20/2006). Cathryn Cushing, a specialist with the Oregon's Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, "I see it as a young adult marketing strategy, and we have a lot of hip young adults in this city," Cushing said. And "if it appeals to a 22-year-old, I think you can assume it will appeal to a 16-year-old. Because what do 16-year-olds want to be? Twenty-two" (The Oregonian, 1/7/2007).

Comment from Metroblogging User - Portland, OR: There are only two drawbacks. First, it doesn't take a genius to see what a boon snus would be to underage users. Heck, you could sit in class with some in your mouth, and no one would be the wiser. At least when I was in high school, you had the telltale clumps of 'chaw' in the water fountains to betray the tobacco user, or at least the worn white rings in the back pocket of your jeans. You could probably hide this stuff from teachers and parents pretty easily. Second, although smokeless tobacco saves you from some of the risk of heart disease and lung cancer, plenty of smokeless tobacco users out there have developed cancer of the mouth or throat, and have had large chunks of their jaws and tongues removed as a result. But that's a hard image to sell to sixteen-year-olds, who are pretty sure that they're immortal ("You Snus, You Lose" posted by PAgent at 1:50pm on January 8, 2007).

RJR has had a number of Camel snus ads in community entertainment newspapers - take a look, you decide whose the target audience. There's been lots of coupon offers - giving away free cans of Camel SNUS. Some addition related news briefs: Experience of a High School Student Using Camel SNUS - from the Kansas City Star, 10/31/2007..; Are adults snoozing while kids are "snusing?".. and Ohio youth are using cigars and smokeless tobacco products and it is a continuously growing problem...

With the new dissolvable products that RJR wants to market you can count on the same happening again but on a much broader scale. Remember what UST's former salesman Bob Beets, said, "Cherry Skoal (moist snuff) for somebody who likes the taste of candy, if you know what I mean."

Let's NOT let this happen. Calling on the U.S. Attorneys General to enforce the agreement with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company of October 2006.

"Our Highest Priority Has To Be Keeping Children From Beginning To Use Tobacco Products" Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the USA