You’d be forgiven if you mistook a Camel Orb for a Tic Tac mint. They share a similar size and shape and have candy flavoring. But Camel Orbs are no breath mint. Instead, Orbs are made of finely ground tobacco packed with nicotine, a highly addictive drug. Or if you prefer, you can choose a thin strip similar to some breath mint products or a stick resembling a toothpick.
With their discreet form, candy-like appearance, and added flavorings that may be attractive to young children, smokeless tobacco products are of concern. From 2002 to 2006, there was an average increase of 6% per year recent increase in the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among adolescents. Smokeless tobacco products are designed and marketed not for smoking cessation but rather as temporary substitutes for cigarettes when smoking is not allowed.
Worse, there is little doubt that these products being made to look like candy but containing nicotine – are not only marketed for children to use but are also intended to get children addicted to using tobacco products. The small size of the products makes them conducive to their secretive use. Why else but to entice children would they be made that way? It should be remembered that it was the revelation that tobacco companies were manipulating the level of nicotine in cigarettes, and thus artificially increasing the likelihood of an addiction, that lead to the first jury verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs’ against the tobacco companies.
A study released online by Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, examines child poisonings resulting from ingestion of tobacco products, particular ingestion of smokeless tobacco products, through analysis of poison control center data. The potential toxicity of novel smokeless tobacco products to young children is assessed. Unintentional ingestion of tobacco products is a major reason for infant and child toxic exposures reported to poison control centers.
The large majority (90%) of accidental poisonings in the population involve children under 6 years of age. Lame excuses for this shameless need to replace those [smokers] who die are put forward in today’s New York Times. These excuses include that Orbs come in a child resistant cap (any child old enough to be interested in ingesting the products is old enough to open a child resistant cap); that anti-smoking products also come in flavors (but their purpose is good the exact opposite of the tobacco candies); and that many other common household products like cleaning supplies posed risks to infants and children from accidental ingestion (so what? At least they’re not designed to harm children).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to ban smokeless tobacco products or require product changes. That authority comes from the newly signed Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which put tobacco products under government review for the first time. The law provides the Food and Drug Administration with certain authority to regulate tobacco products and prohibits cigarette constituents or additives that provide a characterizing flavor to the tobacco or tobacco smoke. This prohibition does not apply to other tobacco products. The law also created the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA. The FDA is required under the statute to study dissolvable products within 2 years. The outcome of that review could result in a ban. Nothing less than a ban will do.