Nov. 14 2001
Washington, DC — According to published news reports, Star Scientific Inc. is marketing a new product called Ariva – a nicotine-packed, mint-flavored tobacco lozenge that looks like a breath mint. Star says Ariva is intended for use in situations where smoking a cigarette is not permitted. Star claims that the product has reduced levels of harmful toxins, even though the company admits it has no studies to substantiate any claim of reduced health risks.
Ariva poses two serious problems. It is likely to appeal to children because of its candy-like form and minty taste and because it is easy to conceal. It is also likely to discourage smokers from quitting by feeding their nicotine addiction when they are in places they can't smoke. There is no evidence that this product will help smokers quit or prompt them to use other tobacco products less.
The marketing of Ariva adds to the growing list of reasons why Congress needs to give the FDA real authority to regulate tobacco products. It is patently absurd that a nicotine lozenge like Ariva goes unregulated while other nicotine delivery devices, such as Nicorette gum or NicoDerm patches are subject to clinical trials and FDA regulation. A consumer walking into a convenience store will now have a choice between cigarettes, these new tobacco lozenges or products that help smokers quit, all of which deliver nicotine, but only the product that helps smokers quit is currently subject to FDA regulation. If Star were serious about its stated support for FDA jurisdiction over tobacco products, it would have submitted Ariva for approval before marketing it to consumers.
The only explanation for this special treatment of a tobacco industry product is the millions of dollars of campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures that enable Big Tobacco to buy protection from regulation. It should come as no surprise that the industry is once again putting its profits ahead of the public health.
Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 Americans every year. It is time for Congress to reject tobacco industry influence and protect the public health by giving the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacture, sale and marketing of all tobacco products, including Ariva.