Star Wishing for Approval

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Star Wishing for Approval

CONCORD, N.H. -- Attorney General Philip McLaughlin yesterday joined his counterparts from 39 other states and one territory in asking the federal government to ban sales of Star Tobacco's Ariva powdered tobacco lozenge.

Ariva should not be marketed unless the FDA determines it is safe, the attorneys general said.

According to McLaughlin, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already regulates other items that provide nicotine to users -- such as patches, gum and lip balm -- and the new lozenge should not be treated any differently, according to the Concord (N.H.) Monitor.

Earlier this week, the FDA ruled nicotine water products were illegal.

Paul Perito, chairman, president and COO for Star Scientific, said the FDA has no authority to regulate Ariva because it is neither a food nor a drug. He said Ariva is just a "compressed form" of a dry snuff already made by the company.

Ariva is a small, sweetened, mint-flavored lozenge about the size of a Tic-Tac breath mint. It contains high levels of nicotine, but -- unlike other tobacco products -- it is completely ingested. "Because Ariva is digested entirely, Ariva is likely to deliver nicotine and other substances it contains in ways and in levels that have not been evaluated for health and safety," the FDA said.

The FDA claims Ariva, packaged like candy or gum with no telltale smoke or strong tobacco odor, is easy for children to use secretly and the admonition on the package that it is for "adult tobacco users only" is meant to appeal to children.

Perito said Ariva is intended for adult smokers in situations where they cannot or choose not to smoke. He accused the attorneys general of exaggerating possible dangers of the product while ignoring the fact that Ariva has far lower nitrosamines levels than found in other smokeless tobacco products.

ABOVE: Paul Perito, chairman, president and COO for Star Scientific.