An advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is meeting this week to discuss the risks and benefits of dissolvable tobacco. Critics of the products say they look like candy and are designed to appeal to teens, HealthDay reports.
According to a FDA memo, the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee will be discussing a range of issues including accidental poisoning from dissolvable tobacco, the effects of product packaging, marketing practices, youth perception of the products, and the behavioral, toxicological and physiological effects of dissolvable tobacco.
These flavored sticks, strips or orbs are designed to allow people to use nicotine in places where smoking is not allowed, the article notes. Among the products are Camel Orbs, Strips and Sticks, as well as Ariva and Stonewall.
“If you wanted to design a product that would appeal to youth and addict younger adolescents and adults to nicotine, this would be it,” Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told HealthDay. “These products are designed to look like a candy and addict the user permanently.” They can be accidentally swallowed, resulting in nicotine poisoning, he added. Winickoff said the FDA could cap the amount of nicotine in each piece of dissolvable tobacco, to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning.
Dr. Thomas Glynn, Director of Cancer Science and Trends at the American Cancer Society, said he is concerned that there is so much that is still not known 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 smoking.”