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Smokeless Tobacco "Orbs" Safer, FDA Says

A health-impact study on tobacco "dissolvables" produces a variety pack of pros and cons.

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R.J. Reynolds' dissolvable tobacco
Orbs. Photo via

By Hunter R. Slaton

03/23/12

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According to a new FDA report, those who can’t seem to kick the smokes might do well to switch to tobacco “dissolvables”—finely milled tobacco pressed into various shapes, which users suck on like hard candy. The report, issued by the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, claims that these new nicotine-delivery systems could be beneficial in some respects: “Based on understanding of the delivery of toxins to cigarette smokers, exclusive use of [dissolvable tobacco products] should be less hazardous than regular smoking of cigarettes now marketed in the United States.”

On the other hand, the FDA panel worries that having these safer tobacco products on the market could undermine the progress that’s been made in convincing the general public of the deadliness inherent in smoking. But for nicotine addicts who are interested in harm reduction—or who are just finding it more and more difficult to find someplace where they can light up—R.J. Reynolds’ is test-marketing dissolvables including Camel Orbs, Camel Strips and Camel Sticks in mint and other flavors. There’s even a “Variety Pack.” If that sounds like kids’ stuff, you’re right: The FDA has expressed concern that candy-reminiscent dissolvable tobacco products could prove especially attractive to kids and young adults.

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