R.J. Reynolds recently introduced dissolvable Orbs, Sticks and Strips under the Camel brand, one of the most popular brands with smokers younger than age 18. These products have been test marketed in Colorado. These are dissolvable tobacco products and are made to resemble breath mints, gum, and toothpicks. Users place the products on the tongue or between the lip and gum. These are sold in easy to conceal packages, and even flavored. Philip Morris has also recently test marketed these types of products.
Other versions of these products are appearing in drug stores next to nicotine replacement therapies (patches, gum) but are very different. Usually sold as tablets, these products are made from tobacco.
All dissolvable tobacco products have similar risks to traditional tobacco products such as causing cancer, heart disease and hypertension, and they contain addictive nicotine.
Alarmingly, dissolvables are also generally the least expensive form of tobacco as they are not subject to the tobacco excise tax in Colorado, making them easily accessible. Given their low cost, and being easy to conceal, dissolvables have the potential to be heavily used by young people and serve as a pathway to other types of tobacco use such as smoking.
Electronic cigarettes have not been proven as a safe alternative to smoking. These devices are commonly sold in shopping malls and at convenience stores, and work by turning cartridges of nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled like a real cigarette. In 2009 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about these devices as they:
While they’ve been around for years, the sale of little cigars increased by 240% from 1997 to 2007. These products are smaller than regular cigars and are generally the size of a cigarette. They’re often sold in packs of 20 like cigarettes. Where they differ from cigarettes is in the wrapping material. Cigarettes are wrapped in paper, while little cigars are wrapped in tobacco leaves, or a substance containing tobacco. Like their full-sized relatives, little cigars are associated with increased risk of cancer in the lungs, larynx, esophagus, and mouth.3 Unlike cigarettes, it is still legal to sell flavored little cigars and cigarillos, and these are frequently found in flavors such as grape, cherry and bubble gum that are likely to appeal to youth.
These water pipes have become increasing popular with young people, and even managed to avoid indoor air regulations in cities and town throughout the country as many perceive the smoke they produce to be less harmful than cigarette or cigar smoke. This of course is not the case. Hookah smoke contains significant amounts of cancer-causing ingredients, and has the same addictive properties. In fact, many hookah users will often inhale even more toxic chemicals as hookah sessions last longer, and generate more secondhand smoke from multiple users. As hookahs use charcoal or wooden cinder to burn tobacco, users are also inhaling toxins from the burning wood in addition to the tobacco.4
There have been a fair amount of products marketed as nicotine replacement therapy. These products have come in all kinds of forms from nicotine-infused lollipops and lip balm to nicotine water. Most of these products are short-lived as they are sold without authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, usually because they go to market without extensive testing. FDA approved nicotine replacement therapies are provided by the Colorado QuitLine, or you can ask your doctor about FDA approved products if you’re trying to quit.5
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