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R.J. Reynolds Gives FDA Dissolvable Tobacco Data

WASHINGTON -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJRT) complied with a federal request for information about three of its dissolvable smokeless products -- Camel Sticks, Strips and Orbs, the Winston-Salem Journal.

The company provided the research information to the FDA's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, the same committee which last week began its initial review of the use of menthol flavoring in cigarettes, the report stated. The committee had sent a letter to the tobacco company in February requesting the information.

The FDA acknowledged that RJRT is marketing the tobacco products to adult consumers. Dr. Lawrence Deyton, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, wrote in the letter that the panel has a concern that the packaging and "candy-like appearance" of the products may appeal to children. In addition, there is a concern on whether or not the nicotine content in the products "may facilitate initiation of tobacco use, nicotine dependence and addiction in adolescents, and may serve as a mechanism for inadvertent toxicity in children," according to the letter that was cited by the paper.

The flavored, finely milled tobacco products serve as an alternative to cigarettes, giving adults a way to satisfy nicotine cravings where smoking is not an option, and are being test marketed in three regions.

The results of the committee's review could play a role in determining how well RJRT can develop itself as a "total tobacco company," according to Susan Ivey, the company's top executive.

"We provided both summary results and underlying data related to our product and consumer testing to date on Camel dissolvables, including consumer feedback and results of scientific testing of the products," Maura Payne, a spokeswoman for RJRT, said in the report.

Complying with the request required providing "confidential commercial information and trade secrets, which are exempt from public disclosure under several sections of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act," she added. "Therefore, Reynolds requested its response be treated as confidential by the agency."

The direction of the concerns appears obscure, Brad Rodu, the chairman of the Tobacco Harm Reduction Research University at the University of Louisville, told the newspaper.

He told the Journal describing the products as resembling candy is inaccurate, as dissolvable tobacco does not contain candy or other nutritive ingredients. He also doesn't consider the packaging as brightly colored or easy to open by children, according to the report.

"These features make the risk of accidental nicotine toxicity through use of dissolvable tobacco products extremely unlikely," Rodu said.

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