...aren't Big Tobacco's guinea pigs
As you may know, Altria has announced
the launch of a new tobacco lozenge that it will begin marketing in June. Yet
another in the plethora of new and novel products introduced by the tobacco
companies, this latest one makes it all the more essential that FDA’s Center for
Tobacco Products use its authority to assert jurisdiction over ALL tobacco
products and regulate them accordingly. Our statement on the new product
appears below, followed by a clip on the new product in today’s Wall Street
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 22,
CONTACT: Vince Willmore,
Altria’s New Nicotine Lozenge Shows
Need for FDA to Regulate All Tobacco Products so Consumers Aren’t Big Tobacco’s
Statement of Matthew L.
President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tobacco giant Altria’s launch of a new nicotine
lozenge underscores the need for the Food and Drug Administration to quickly
extend its regulatory authority to all tobacco products and prevent tobacco
companies from continuing to treat American consumers as guinea pigs in their
constant quest for higher profits. Without effective FDA regulation, there is
nothing to stop Altria from marketing its new product in ways that lure and
addict kids, discourage current tobacco users from quitting or mislead the
public, as tobacco companies have done for too
According to a report today by The Wall Street Journal,
Altria plans to begin selling its nicotine lozenge in Virginia in June.
According to the report, "the chewable, mint-flavored disc will provide nicotine
extracted from tobacco.” The report stated that the product will be made of
cellulose fibers and a polymer, resemble a cough drop, release nicotine as a
user sucks or chews on it, and have to be thrown away after
2009 law granting the FDA authority over tobacco products specifically directed
the agency to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and
smokeless tobacco. It also authorized the FDA to extend its jurisdiction to
other tobacco products, which the law defines as "any product made or derived
from tobacco that is intended for human consumption” (and that doesn’t meet the
statutory definition to be regulated as a drug or device). The FDA announced in
December 2010 that it intended to issue regulations asserting jurisdiction over
all tobacco product, but almost a year and a half later, it has yet to do
FDA has taken far too long to act, and its failure to do so has given tobacco
companies the opportunity to introduce novel products that circumvent the law.
Altria’s new product underscores the need for the FDA to quickly assert
authority over all tobacco products so there are no gaps or loopholes in the law
and all tobacco products are regulated to protect public
asserting jurisdiction over this and all tobacco products, the FDA can take
appropriate action to protect public health. Among other things, the agency has
the power to review new tobacco products before they are allowed on the market,
restrict marketing and sales especially to kids, require health warnings,
mandate disclosure of contents of and research about products, and prohibit any
health claims without FDA review. In an example of the proverbial fox guarding
the chicken coop, Altria is currently determining what warnings and sales
restrictions to place on its new product. These decisions should be made by the
FDA, an agency charged with protecting the public health, and not by a tobacco
company motivated by sales and profits.
especially critical that the FDA act to prevent Altria from making any health
claims about its new product without going through the rigorous scientific
review and meeting the tough public health standard set by the 2009 law. The
law prohibits tobacco companies from making any health claims – for example,
that a product is less harmful – without first providing the FDA with the
scientific evidence to show that the product "as it is actually used by
consumers, will (A) significantly reduce harm and the risk of tobacco-related
disease to individual tobacco users; and (B) benefit the health of the
population as a whole,” taking into account both users and non-users of tobacco
products. The FDA must ensure that any reduction in harm to individual tobacco
users is not offset by increasing the number of people, including kids, who
start using tobacco or reducing the number of current tobacco users who quit.
This rigorous standard is needed to prevent a repeat of tobacco industry
deception and ensure that that any future health claims about tobacco products
are supported by sound science and do in fact reduce the death and disease
caused by tobacco use.
Effective FDA regulation of all tobacco products is
critical to reducing the terrible toll of tobacco use, which kills more than
400,000 Americans annually and is the number one cause of preventable death in
States and around the
New From Altria:
A Nicotine Lozenge
By Mike Esterl
The Wall Street
(Copyright (c) 2012, Dow Jones &
giant Altria Group Inc. is moving into uncharted territory: the tobacco-less
The maker of Marlboro will launch a
nondissolving, lozenge-shaped nicotine disc called Verve in coming days, the
latest foray by Big Tobacco into experimental smokeless products amid falling
sales for traditional cigarettes.
Unlike the smokeless products sold
by Altria and its chief U.S. tobacco rival, Reynolds American
Inc., Verve won't contain tobacco. Instead, the chewable, mint-flavored disc
will provide nicotine extracted from tobacco.
This is a crucial distinction.
Richmond, Va.-based Altria is betting that approach will permit it to market the
product with milder health-warning labels than those affixed to cigarettes and
Nicotine is addictive and has been
tied to cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure and diabetes. But unlike
tobacco, it hasn't been linked to cancer.
Government-mandated labels on
mainstream smokeless tobacco products such as moist snuff and chewing tobacco
highlight the risks of cancer, tooth decay and gum disease, warning consumers,
"This is not a safe alternative to cigarettes."
Altria plans to begin selling Verve
in more than 50 stores in Virginia by early June, but it hasn't decided whether
to roll out the product nationally.
Smokeless products represent less
than one-tenth of tobacco-industry sales, but they are an increasingly important
battleground. The smokeless category is growing at about 7% annually, while
U.S. cigarette volume has been
contracting at roughly 4% a year.
Altria, the largest
U.S. tobacco company by
sales, already boasts a roughly 55% share of the smokeless-product market based
on its Copenhagen and Skoal moist snuff
Reynolds, the maker of Camel
cigarettes and Grizzly moist snuff, controls about a third of the country's
Smokeless product makers are hunting
for the next big thing because snuff is messy, requiring users to spit out loose
tobacco after placing it between their cheek and
In recent years, big tobacco
companies have marketed alternative smokeless products such as snus, a spit-less
tobacco pouch, and dissolvable tobacco "sticks," "strips" and "orbs" that also
don't require spitting.
Lorillard Inc., the maker of Newport
cigarettes and the third-largest U.S. tobacco company, said last month that it
will acquire electronic cigarette company Blu ECigs. E-cigarettes, a growing
niche product, turn nicotine-laced liquid into
"I don't think anyone's found the
magic smoke-free product," said John R. Nelson, Altria's chief technology
A Verve disc, which resembles a
cough drop, releases nicotine over roughly 15 minutes as a user sucks or chews
on it. It doesn't require spitting to avoid swallowing tobacco. But the disc of
cellulose fibers and a polymer also doesn't dissolve, so users will have to
throw it away after use.
The new product will be sold in a
package of 16 discs, each containing about 1.5 milligrams of nicotine, less than
many other smokeless products contain. It will sell for about $3 in stores in
Virginia, where a pack of 20 Marlboro cigarettes retails for around $4.50. The
product will be sold to adults only.
Altria is rolling Verve out as the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration is trying to slap larger, more graphic warning
labels on cigarettes, including an image of a person smoking through a hole in
the neck. A federal judge recently put those plans on hold after some cigarette
companies sued the FDA, arguing the labels went too
Altria says it has shared its new
product plans with the FDA. The government agency confirmed it had been
contacted by Altria but declined to comment on how it might regulate such a
The new product in some ways
resembles gum and lozenges that contain nicotine but no tobacco and are sold by
pharmaceutical companies to help wean smokers off cigarettes. But such
pharmaceutical aids, also called nicotine-replacement therapies, are meant to be
used for only a few months.
Matthew Myers, president of Campaign
for Tobacco-Free Kids, an anti-smoking group, said the health impact from
long-term use of nicotine isn't known.
Altria will include a warning label
on the new product, telling consumers that nicotine can increase "heart rate,
blood pressure and aggravate diabetes."
The label will also warn nicotine
"can harm your baby if you are pregnant or nursing" and "cause dizziness, nausea
and stomach pain."
Source: Vince Willmore, Vice President,
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids