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    Up in Smoke

    UST withdraws its request to FTC to allow smokeless products safer ad claims.

    GREENWICH, Conn. -- Smokeless-tobacco maker UST Inc. has withdrawn a request to the Federal Trade Commission for permission to claim in advertisements that dipping is safer than smoking cigarettes.

    UST, which is trying to boost its business by winning over smokers, in February asked the FTC to issue an "advisory opinion" that would clear the way for the company to make claims comparing the risks of different tobacco products, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    In a letter dated Aug. 12, the company, whose brands include Skoal and Copenhagen, withdrew the request, saying it wanted the FTC to have the opportunity to consider information from two scientific conferences to be held later this year. A person familiar with the situation said UST pulled its request when it looked likely that the FTC wasn't going to approve it, the report said.

    UST's request drew heated opposition from many tobacco-control advocates who said that assertions that snuff is safer than smoking could encourage more young people to use smokeless tobacco and, later, cigarettes. Opponents also worried that FTC approval would have opened the door for other tobacco companies to make claims about various modified cigarettes now coming to the market.

    Others in the public health community supported UST. While the U.S. surgeon general has concluded that smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer and other health problems, it is widely considered less dangerous than cigarettes, and some think it should be promoted as a way for nicotine addicts to get their fix in a less harmful form, according to The Journal.

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