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 week.
"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 cigarettes.
"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 nicoti
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