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At least one senior senator on Capitol Hill is pushing the Food and Drug Administration to pull “dissolvable tobacco” products from store shelves for fear that children could confuse the potentially deadly items for candy and consume them in large quantities.

Senator Frank Lautenberg urged the FDA to pull the products, namely Camel’s Orbs, Sticks, and Strips from stores until the agency could conduct a study on the products effects on children and teenagers. The new products are made out of ground tobacco and cinnamon or mint flavoring and closely resemble breath mints, dissolvable “breath strips”, or toothpicks. In his recent letter to the FDA, Lautenberg cited a recent study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, which found that some of the dissolvable tobacco products contain extremely high amounts of nicotine. For example, one Camel stick can deliver as much as 3.1 milligrams of nicotine compared to the average 1 milligram in a cigarette. Moreover, the study concluded that if a 4-year-old child were to consume 16 to 27 pellets of the Camel Orbs which contain 1 milligram each of nicotine, the child could suffer from nicotine poisoning or death.

Gregory Connolly, the study’s author and the director of the Tobacco Control Research Program at Harvard School of Public Health recently stated:

“This product is called a ‘tobacco’ product, but in the eyes of a 4-year-old, the pellets look more like candy than a regular cigarette. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and to make it look like a piece of candy is recklessly playing with the health of children.”

Despite the concerns of Conolly and Senator Lautenberg, tobacco companies are adamant that the products are not being marketed to children and instead are being marketed solely to adults. They also argue that “childproof” containers will prevent children from consuming the products. Currently, the products are being test-marketed in Indiana, Ohio, and Oregon, but Camel’s parent company, R.J. Reynolds, has also started a nationwide advertising campaign.

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