FDA Fears Kids Will Like Dissolvable Tobacco

Filed under: In The News

Lawrence Deyton, head of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products,says he's concerned about dissolvable tobacco products. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin, AP

Remember candy cigarettes? You can still buy them, and odds are some kids still enjoy them, but they don't actually contain any tobacco; powdered sugar meant to look like smoke is as close as they come to real cigarettes.

Now the Food and Drug Administration is worried that kids will like dissolvable tobacco, which can be found in products that somewhat resemble breath mints, but contain tobacco and nicotine.

The Associated Press reports that Dr. Lawrence Deyton, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) sent a letter on Feb. 1 to R.J. Reynolds expressing concern "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."

The letter also was sent to Star Scientific Inc., a company that makes the smokeless tobacco tablets Ariva (containing approximately 1.5 mg of nicotine and "available in a cool, refreshing Wintergreen flavor," according to an ad on its Web site) and Stonewall (designed for "heavy smokers," with approximately 4.0 mg of nicotine per tablet, available in three flavors -- "Wintergreen, Natural or Java.")

The FDA was granted additional powers to regulate tobacco this past June, according to the news service. The agency is asking to review the companies' research regarding the perception and usage of these products among people younger than 26 years old.

The AP says Star Scientific has been selling its smokeless tablets for about nine years; the company's Web site indicates that the products are marketed as something for smokers to use when they are in places where lighting up is not allowed. (Which, if you live in certain parts of the United States, is just about everywhere.)

R.J. Reynolds is currently test-marketing similar products; a spokesperson for the company told the AP it plans to help the FDA as requested, adding that "Our products are made for, and marketed to, adult tobacco consumers," and pointing out that dissolvable tobacco products are sold under the same age restrictions as cigarettes or other forms of tobacco.

A Star Scientific spokesperson says the company would also gladly speak with regulators, adding that it hopes its products are "palatable to the customer while at the same time not making it attractive to the non-tobacco user." Star Scientific has been selling Ariva and Stonewall for approximately nine years, according to the AP.

What do you think? Could kids be attracted to dissolvable tobacco products if the flavors are tasty enough? Or is the FDA shouting fire in a smokeless theater?

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Related: Tobacco Use in Teens

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.