February 4, 2010

FDA Worried About ‘Candy-Like’ Tobacco Products

More information is being demanded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about tobacco related products that come in a variety of flavors that children may mistake for candy.

According to Reuters, the products, made by Reynolds American Inc's R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co and by Star Scientific Inc, contain powdered "smokeless" tobacco and are brightly colored, with flavors such as coffee and mint.

Products such as Snus, a no-spit tobacco pouch meant to be placed under the upper lip, are aimed at adults who must deal with a growing number of smoking bans in public places as well as those looking to stop smoking.

Another product called Orbs is a dissolvable breath-mint sized tobacco that can easily be mistaken for a Tic-Tac.

Health educator Isa Kaluhikaua told Reuters that if a child ingested three Orbs, they would get ill, and 10 could result in serious illness.

She said even though most of these products can be purchased off the shelf, the FDA has not yet approved them.

A letter from the FDA to Reynolds and Star Scientific said it was concerned that the products could draw in children and teenagers. Use of the products could lead to nicotine addiction and could even cause health problems from the ingestion of too much nicotine, the FDA said.

FDA is "concerned that children and adolescents may find dissolvable tobacco products particularly appealing, given the brightly colored packaging, candy-like appearance and easily concealable size of many of these products," Lawrence Deyton, head of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, wrote February 1.

The company was not surprised by the letter and said they would cooperate fully.

"We're happy to share information with them," Sara Troy Machir rold Reuters.

While the FDA, in its letters to the two companies, acknowledged the products are marketed to adults, it nonetheless asked both manufacturers for extensive information on research and marketing practices for the products.

R.J. Reynolds markets three types of similar products under its Camel brand that deliver dissolvable nicotine in tablet, mouth strip and small matchstick-like forms.


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