Merkley bill targets tobacco candy

WASHINGTON — Legislation the Senate is considering to regulate tobacco products under the Food and Drug Administration includes a measure that would mandate the study of a new product: tobacco candy.

Made by the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the lozenge-like Camel Orb is being test-marketed in Portland, Ore., Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio.

The Orb is part of a booming market in smokeless alternatives to cigarettes that has emerged as smoking bans have swept the nation.

An amendment to the tobacco legislation recently passed by a Senate panel would require the new Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee to study the public health effects of tobacco candy — particularly the risks to children — and report its findings to the Food and Drug Administration within two years.

Orbs come in two flavors — “mellow” and “fresh” mint — and are sold in containers designed to look like cell phones, according to a statement by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who helped write the amendment.

The Indiana Poison Control Center estimates that dissolvable tobacco products like the tobacco candy contain half to three times the nicotine of a cigarette.

“Tobacco candies are clearly designed to appeal to children through both packaging and taste,” Merkley said. “Congress and the FDA must act quickly to ensure our children do not become victims of the tobacco companies’ latest efforts to hook new generations of Americans on deadly products.”