U.S. - A contradiction H.R. 1261 Youth Prevention and Tobacco Harm Reduction..

March 18, 2009 - This legislation is an alternative bill to H.R. 1256 The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act for the federal government to regulate tobacco. Bill Godshall, executive director of Smokefree Pennsylvania, is lobbying on behalf of the alternative proposal being pushed by U.S. Representatives Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.). In place of the FDA, the bill would create a new agency within the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to regulate tobacco products.

We wondered why the words "Youth Prevention" were a part of the name of the bill. It was most likely added to get the attention of lawmakers. The promotion of harm reduction products can only lead to more youngsters tempted to try these tobacco products leading to a life of nicotine addiction. Nicotine has numerous adverse effects but the one most important in an adolescent, is the effect on brain development. The presence of nicotine leads to decline in attention, in particular auditory attention, and at the same time as abnormalities in the structure of the brain that seems to be premature developmental changes. Nicotine binds to a receptor called the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor that's very important in modulating development in both prenatal and adolescent life. (Professor Leslie Jacobsen M.D., Dept. of Psychiatry, Yale University)

There’s a move to promote so-called tobacco harm reduction products as a safer alternative to tobacco smoking. We’re in agreement along with the American Association of Public Health Physicians on the use of smokeless tobacco if distribution could be limited to inveterate tobacco smokers (smokers who are either unable or unwilling to quit). Tobacco companies, with the continual decrease in cigarette sales and with little credibility, are prodding health officials to come forward and support claims about the safety of smokeless tobacco products. Leading U.S. tobacco control researchers and policy experts have been meeting (last meeting August 2007) to have a strategic dialogue on tobacco harm reduction. They have called for policies that encourage current tobacco users to reduce their health risks by switching from the most to the least harmful nicotine-containing products.

Is it possible to limit the distribution of smokeless tobacco products to inveterate tobacco smokers (smokers who are either unable or unwilling to quit)?? We Do Not Think So.

Professor John Britton, Chairman of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, a proponent of harm reduction solution has concluded, “It’s their (tobacco companies) job to sell as much tobacco as possible, so they will be targeting non-smokers rather than current ones, that’s the worry.”

Dr. Britton is correct in that tobacco companies have an entirely different goal in mind – they are already targeting a much younger crowd of young adults and any kids they can entice along the way.

Now let's look at how R.J. Reynolds Tobacco (RJR) has 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 who's the target audience. There's been lots of coupon offers - giving away free cans of Camel SNUS. Some additional 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... At least in the Raleigh, NC area the RJR sales people keep on providing convenience stores with free cans of snus to pass out to customers.

With the new dissolvable products that RJR has started 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.") Again Portland, Oregon is one of the three test sites - we wondered why??

Each product is marketed in convenient user-friendly dosage form containing amounts of the nicotine to render the user a slave to this addictive substance for many years to come. The Camel Dissolvables Products: flavored Sticks can be placed in the mouth like a toothpick or broken into pieces that are placed between the upper lip and gum, where they dissolve after 10 minutes; Orbs, which is a pellet (like placing a candy in your mouth) that lasts about 15 minutes and edible film Strips for the tongue (like Listerine breath strips), which dissolve after about 3 minutes. Strips will come in fresh mint flavor and Sticks in Mellow; Orbs will be available in both flavors. Click on the image below to enlarge - a comparison of Camel Orbs with Tic Tacs which one is the candy - both are flavored and presented in attractive packaging.

It's impossible to prevent our children from giving these products a try. It only take a few tries for a youngster to soon become addicted to nicotine. We can expect our future leaders - our children to end up as a slave to nicotine never able to reach their full potential.

"Our Highest Priority Has To Be Keeping Children From Beginning To Use Tobacco Products" Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the USA. All tobacco products with no exceptions are highly addictive and dangerous to health; as the World Health Organization tells us "Tobacco is Deadly in Any Form or Disguise."

Click on image to enlarge..