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DENVER -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not the only one turning its eyes to dissolvable tobacco products. Less than one month after the government agency began its review of the products, Colorado officials are starting to take notice as well.
According to a report in The Denver Post, tobacco critics are slamming the products as dangerous "candy" and a cynical move by Big Tobacco to boost sales. The criticism comes as R.J. Reynolds continues to test its Camel Sticks, Camel Strips and Camel Orbs with adult tobacco users in Denver. Charlotte, N.C. is the other test market.
Dissolvable will take a turn in the spotlight on Wednesday when the state public health department holds a special hearing. However, the state could find its efforts to fight the tobacco product hampered by the legislature's decision to use a dedicated tobacco-fighting tax to plug budget holes, according to the newspaper.
"In my mind, there's no safe level of tobacco," said Dr. Chris Urbina, director of the Department of Public Health and Environment. "I'd be very concerned about children picking these up. These look like small candy or mints."
For their part, tobacco companies said they developed the dissolvable products as an alternative for adult tobacco users who are faced with increased smoking bans across the country. The Camel products "are made for and marketed to adult tobacco consumers. As a matter of fact, we developed the products in response to adult tobacco consumers who told us they were interested in products like our Camel dissolvables," said R.J. Reynolds Tobacco spokesman Richard Smith. "It is a guiding principle and belief at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company that youth should not use tobacco products."
Smith added that the company objects to health advocates referring to the products as candy, saying that will only pique the interest of children. The new products are sold from the same shelves with the same age rules and health warnings as cigarettes and other tobacco, he told the news outlet.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's hearing on Wednesday will include expert testimony on the products and their potential dangers. It will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.