TUESDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- They may look and smell a
lot like candy, but dissolvable, smokeless tobacco products aren't
for kids. The safety and risks of "dissolvables" are the subject of
a three-day U.S. Food and Drug Administration meeting this
"Dissolvables" are flavored mints, strips and sticks of smokeless tobacco. These products are not stop-smoking aids. Instead, they are designed to allow people to satisfy their cravings for nicotine in places where smoking is banned.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is test marketing Camel Orbs, Camel
Strips and Camel Sticks in two cities, and Star Scientific Inc., is
marketing two other dissolvable tobacco products, Ariva and
Stonewall. Many public health advocates are concerned about the
risks these products pose to children and teens, namely possible
addiction and nicotine poisoning.
"If you wanted to design a product that would appeal to youth and addict younger adolescents and adults to nicotine, this would be it," said Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "These products are designed to look like a candy and addict the user permanently."
Teens can pop these products without any of the telltale signs
of smoking cigarettes or the mess associated with snus, which are
teabag-like pouches placed between the upper lip and gun. Before
long, he said, they're addicted.
Another worry is accidental ingestion, resulting in nicotine
poisoning. An April 2010 study in the journal
Pediatrics showed that smokeless tobacco products are the
second most common cause of nicotine poisoning in children, after
"If children are already ingesting cigarettes, we cannot doubt that they will ingest dissolvable tobacco that is specifically designed to taste good," Winickoff said. "Just because they smell like chocolate or mint and look safe, they contain nicotine and are potentially harmful for adolescents and could start a lifetime of nicotine addiction. Parents of young children need to be aware that these products have the potential to cause a serious overdose."
Mild symptoms of nicotine poisoning include vomiting, nausea,
diarrhea and headaches. Severe nicotine poisoning can lead to
involuntary twitching, muscle paralysis, heart palpitations,
seizures or death.
One milligram (mg) of nicotine can cause vomiting and diarrhea
in a small child, according to the study. The Camel dissolvables
contain between 0.6 mg and 3.1 mg of nicotine, depending on the
product. Smokers inhale about 1 mg of nicotine in a typical
Pediatrics study was released, Orbs manufacturer R.J.
Reynolds stated that it had taken steps to prevent accidental
ingestion of Camel dissolvable tobacco products by youth, including
child-resistant packaging and educating poison control centers
about the products and possible effects of accidental
"The bottom line: Tobacco products, along with many other types of goods, need to be kept out of the hands of children," the statement concluded.
Now all eyes are on the FDA. The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention
and Tobacco Control Act gives the agency authority over the
manufacture, distribution and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless
tobacco products. Winickoff said he hopes the FDA will do whatever
it can to keep these products away from children and teens.
"We could consider capping the amount of nicotine in each piece so you could eliminate or drastically reduce potential to cause a fatal nicotine overdose if the entire package was consumed," he said.
Other pediatricians and public health advocates raise similar
fears about these products.
"You can sneak them into a classroom," said Dr. Lee Beers, a pediatrician at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "This increases the potential for early tobacco adoption and increasing levels of addiction. There doesn't really seem to be any reason to have tobacco in a format that is much more easily ingestible and with quite a few downsides, particularly when think about children and adolescents. Children can and will get into anything even if the packages are childproof," she said.
Dr. Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends at the
American Cancer Society, said there are many unknowns about
dissolvable tobacco products. "At this point, we don't know the
full range of what is in them," he said. "I don't see any potential
in these dissolvable products other than to keep people
Visit the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to learn more about the
smoking and dissolvable tobacco products.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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