FDA Panel: Dissolvable Tobacco Could Reduce Risks
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Food and Drug Administration scientific advisory panel says dissolvable tobacco products could reduce health risks compared with smoking cigarettes but also have the potential to increase the overall number of tobacco users.
Dissolvable tobacco is finely milled tobacco pressed into shapes like tablets that slowly dissolve in a user’s mouth. It is gaining the attention of tobacco companies looking to make up for a decline in cigarette use as smokers face tax hikes, growing health concerns, smoking bans and social stigma.
The agency’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee report studying the products was posted online ahead of the Friday deadline mandated under the law giving the FDA authority to regulate the industry. Despite its findings after months of public meetings and presentations, the panel noted that there’s a lack of research on the products that account for a small share of the market.
Tobacco companies are focusing on cigarette alternatives - such as cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco, as well as other forms of nicotine delivery - for future sales growth. The panel says the products are being marketed for use when tobacco consumers can’t smoke.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which is owned by Reynolds American Inc. in Winston-Salem, N.C., is test-marketing dissolvable tablets, strips and a toothpick shape under the names Camel Orbs, Camel Strips and Camel Sticks in mint and other flavors. The orbs last about 15 minutes, the strips dissolve in five minutes or less and the sticks, which are slightly bigger than toothpicks, last 15 to 20 minutes.
Richmond-based Altria Group Inc., owner of the nation’s largest tobacco company, Philip Morris USA, also is test marketing wooden sticks coated with finely milled tobacco under the Marlboro brand.
Additionally, Star Scientific Inc., based in Glen Allen, Va., markets tobacco lozenges in wintergreen, coffee and tobacco flavors. The Ariva and Stonewall-branded tablets first appeared on the market about 10 years ago, but sales have been minimal.