U.S. - snuff out dissolvable smokeless-tobacco products before they can get a toehold ..

May 26, 2009 - Two senators are aiming to snuff out dissolvable smokeless-tobacco products before they can get a toehold in the U.S. market. U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio amendment to the proposed FDA regulation bill from Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., is stoking the debate regarding the viability and possible less-hazardous role of smokeless tobacco products. U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley; U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown

The senators have labeled as "tobacco candy" the three dissolvable products being test marketed by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. The senators say that the dissolvable products are aimed at getting youths hooked on tobacco and nicotine. They said that some of the products are sold in containers "designed to resemble cell phones."
"There is no doubt that smokeless tobacco products are aimed squarely at children," Brown said. "We have a responsibility to protect children from suggestive marketing and dangerous products."

Reynolds counters that the products -- a pellet (Camel Orbs), a twisted stick the size of a toothpick (Camel Sticks) and a filmlike strip for the tongue (Camel Strips) -- are aimed at adult consumers who want to use a tobacco product in places where they can no longer smoke by federal and state law. Reynolds is plowing ahead with its smokeless-tobacco initiatives as part of what Susan Ivey, its chairwoman and chief executive, calls its transformation into becoming a "total tobacco company."

In October, Reynolds introduced the first dissolvable product Camel Orbs in test markets in Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis and Portland, Ore. The products are made of finely milled tobacco and come in flavor styles called "fresh" and "mellow." They last from two to three minutes for the strips, 10 to 15 minutes for the orbs and 20 to 30 minutes for the sticks. The Camel Orbs container and the pellets look quite similar to candies such as Tic Tac. We hear that kids like the little Camel on the container.

Just like with Camel SNUS, Reynolds has tried just about every possible way to get a container of Camel Orbs in the hands of anyone that shows any interest.

The good senator from Oregon she ask Reynolds why they keep on selecting Portland, Oregon as a test market site - first for Camel SNUS and now with the Camel Dissolvables.

The senators' amendment was approved last week by a 15-8 vote, mostly along party lines, in the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension. Both North Carolina senators, Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Kay Hagan, voted against the amendment.

The Kennedy bill is expected to be dealt with in the Senate next week. Like the House version of the bill that was passed in April, it would impose restrictions on the marketing of cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco and allow the FDA to regulate the content of cigarettes.

By introducing the amendment, the senators may be providing the means for scientifically proving whether smokeless products are less hazardous than cigarettes.
Such a definitive test in the United States, which would be under the auspices of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory committee, has been requested for years by advocates on both sides of the issue.A report would be presented within two years to the FDA if it is given oversight of the industry. - why 2-years??

Julie Edwards, a spokeswoman for Merkley, said that unlike nicotine gum, which is meant to be used for a limited time with decreasing use of nicotine, "tobacco candy is meant to start or continue the addiction and may have even higher doses of nicotine than cigarettes." "We are talking about a product that hasn't been strenuously studied but is assumed to carry many of the same risks as chewing tobacco -- including the risk of cancer."

Both Reynolds officials and some smokeless-tobacco advocates dispute Edwards' statement on higher doses of nicotine in smokeless products.

Tommy Payne, the executive vice president of public affairs for Reynolds, said that the senators' amendment is part of an "abstinence-only strategy that only provides three options for smokers -- cigarettes, nicotine replacement or quitting cold turkey. Our smokeless products are part of a strategy aimed at harm reduction that is backed by scientists and elements of the antismoking advocacy groups," Payne said.
"Their intent with the dissolvable study could be beneficial to our efforts if the science reveals what we believe it will."

Reference: U.S. senators attack Reynolds' alternative They propose amendment to FDA tobacco bill to ban dissolvable smokeless products by Richard Craver, Winston=Salem Journal, 5/26/2009.

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