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Oct-27-2010 14:40printcomments

Dissolvable Tobacco Dubbed 'Candy' by Oregon's Sen. Merkley

Merkley urges Oregonians to share concerns Over dissolvable tobacco products with FDA; comment period begins this week...

Dissolvable tobacco

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week opened a 60-day comment period on dissolvable tobacco products which Senator Jeff Merkley's office has dubbed "tobacco candy."

I was going to publish their press release without editing it, but then I realized that the product they are describing as 'candy' is actually an extremely awful tasting tobacco tablet that I've tried in the past. I believe that any child who placed one of these in their mouths would spit it halfway across the room after they realized how awful tasting it is.

They are the foulest tasting item one could ever try to ingest.

I believe the senator and possibly his entire staff, have never actually experienced one of these items that they very clearly choose to describe as 'candy' when it is nothing of the sort. This is a product strictly sold to adults and my take on it was that if a person wanted to quit smoking, they could somehow wrestle these things down and the last thing they would want afterward would be a cigarette.

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley is urging Oregonians to submit their stories and opinions relating to the sale, distribution, and use of "tobacco candy" to the FDA and again I cringe; I feel this statement is extremely misleading and poorly selected.

But they love this language.

“Tobacco candy poses two significant threats to our children,” Merkley said.

“First and foremost, these products are designed to hook the next generation of Americans into nicotine addiction, jeopardizing the health of young people for the rest of their lives. In fact, tobacco causes more than 443,000 deaths each year. And second, upon rare occasions, these candies can pose a serious poisoning threat if ingested by young children. If you have concerns over the way these tobacco candy products are being marketed to our children, now is the time to make your voice heard.”

Jeff Merkley always struck me as a well intentioned person, from most everything I have seen over the years. I've watched Jeff go from the Oregon capital to the national capital as a U.S. Senator. To me that means increased responsibility. This whole approach however rings of false advertising.

Also, the Camel Orbs box in particular, is very hard to open. It makes childproof pill bottles look easy.

Again from Merkley's press release:

In June 2009, Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which allows the FDA to regulate tobacco products for the first time. A provision of the bill authored by Merkley and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) requires the new Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee to study the public health effects of tobacco candy and report to the FDA on its findings.

Tobacco candy products are designed to appeal to children. They are made of dissolvable tobacco and resemble breath mints and other candies and come in flavors such as mint and caramel.

I know the Camel tablets were awful; perhaps these new products somehow actually carry the tastes mentioned above. I think in the end it is very hard to make a foul product like tobacco taste good and I allow that anything is possible, but from what I have seen so far, the thing Merkley calls 'candy' is anything but candy. I also can't see this product as something designed to entice a new generation of tobacco users; I see it as a bridge for a person who seeks to quit smoking.

The press release states that a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics in April 2010 showed that dissolvable tobacco products, including Camel Orbs, Sticks and Strips, can poison and ultimately cause death in children.

Already, there has been a confirmed case of a 3-year-old in Oregon ingesting Camel Orbs, a small, compressed tobacco pellet.

There is no mention of anything adverse happening to the child in the press release.

According to one of the authors, a single Orb can contain about 1 milligram of nicotine roughly equal to the amount in a typical cigarette and enough to sicken a small child. Ingesting a handful of pellets could be lethal.

My point is that the public should not be swayed by such strong wording by one of our elected officials; using 'candy' to describe a product that will not be labeled as candy, placed in a candy section, or available to children. Adults who use these products, quite obviously, should keep them out of any child's reach; the same way people carefully manage their prescription medicines, many of which also resemble 'candy'.

As part of the FDA’s information collection process, tobacco companies will be submitting their own documents and research.

Oregonians can share their stories on the Regulations.gov website at: http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480b766c4

The deadline for comments to be submitted is December 27, 2010.

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 65 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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Daniel October 28, 2010 12:55 pm (Pacific time)

Tim I have to disagree on several points . The 1st is these products are not for withdrawing from tobacco . The withdraw products slowly release nicotine , this product gives a rapid release . It was designed for tobacco addicts to eat when in non smoking areas . It only encourages the habit . 2nd it was not Sen Merkley who came up with the wording tobacco candy. In the last few years thousands of kids have been sickened by ingesting tobacco non smoking products . This is a new product and the data is not yet factored in on it effect . Young children will put anything in there mouth , especially if it looks or smells like candy . Tobacco is one of the major killers more than the pharmaceutical pills Salem news rightly rallies against . What would you think of Oxycontin candy , just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down . Those who are addicted to tobacco are far better off quitting , for themselves and those around them . Tobacco products covered with highly toxic additives should be totally banned . You are only fooling yourself if you think smoking or eating this toxic stew will not have very detrimental effects on your body and mind .

J+ October 27, 2010 3:46 pm (Pacific time)

Ironically, (authenic sugar) candy is probably just as dangerous for children as these smokeless tobacco products. Sometimes I think Halloween is just a Dental Conspiracy! For the record, i hate both tobacco and candy; I am not endorsing either.

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