Oct. 8 2008
Washington, D.C. — According to news reports, R.J. Reynolds has announced plans to test-market three new smokeless tobacco products that dissolve in the mouth, come in "fresh" and "mellow" flavors and have slick, colorful packaging similar to gum and candy. Called Camel Sticks, Strips and Orbs, these new products also carry the name of RJR's Camel cigarettes, one of the most popular brands among underage smokers. These new products are likely to result in more kids starting to use tobacco products and fewer smokers quitting, and their introduction underscores the urgent need for Congress to pass pending legislation that grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over all tobacco products.
These new products pose serious threats to the nation's health. They are likely to appeal to children because they are flavored and packaged like candy, are easy to conceal even in a classroom and carry the Camel brand that is already so popular with underage smokers. The last thing kids need is another product to start them on the road to nicotine addiction.
These products are also likely to discourage smokers from quitting by sustaining their nicotine addiction in the growing number of places where smoking is not allowed. There is no evidence that these products will help smokers quit or prompt them to use other tobacco products less. Smokers concerned about their health should not be fooled by these new tobacco products and should utilize scientifically proven methods to help them quit, such as FDA-approved medications, telephone quitlines and counseling services.
RJR's new products add to a growing list of novel products tobacco companies have introduced recently in their relentless efforts to recruit new youth users, create and sustain addiction to nicotine, and discourage current users from quitting. The tobacco industry will continue to get away with these harmful practices until Congress ends the industry's regulatory exemption and passes legislation granting the FDA authority over tobacco products. Under this legislation, a government agency will finally have authority over what tobacco companies put in their products, how they market them, the health claims they make and what they disclose about their products' contents and impact on health.
On July 30, the U.S. House of Representatives approved this legislation by a vote of 326 to 102. There is also overwhelming support in the Senate, where the bill has 60 sponsors and several other senators who have indicated support. It is critical that Congress enact this bill into law at the earliest opportunity. Until Congress acts, kids and consumers will continue to be human guinea pigs in the tobacco industry's deadly experiments.
R.J. Reynolds' new products are being test-marketed in Columbus, Ohio, Portland, Oregon, and Indianapolis.