Merkley Urges Oregonians to Share Concerns Over Tobacco Candy with FDA

Portland, OR –
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week opened a 60-day comment period on dissolvable tobacco candy products.  Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley urged Oregonians to submit their stories and opinions relating to the sale, distribution, and use of tobacco candy to the FDA.  

“Tobacco candy poses two significant threats to our children,” Merkley said.  “First and foremost, these products are designed to hook the next generation of Americans into nicotine addiction, jeopardizing the health of young people for the rest of their lives.  In fact, tobacco causes more than 443,000 deaths each year.    And second, upon rare occasions, these candies can pose a serious poisoning threat if ingested by young children. If you have concerns over the way these tobacco candy products are being marketed to our children, now is the time to make your voice heard.”

In June 2009, Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which allows the FDA to regulate tobacco products for the first time.  A provision of the bill authored by Merkley and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) requires the new Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee to study the public health effects of tobacco candy and report to the FDA on its findings. 

Oregonians can share their stories on the website at:

The deadline for comments to be submitted is December 27, 2010.

Tobacco candy products are designed to appeal to children.  They are made of dissolvable tobacco and resemble breath mints and other candies and come in flavors such as mint and caramel. A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics in April 2010 showed that dissolvable tobacco products, including Camel Orbs, Sticks and Strips, can poison and ultimately cause death in children. 

Already, there has been a confirmed case of a 3-year-old in Oregon ingesting Camel Orbs, a small, compressed tobacco pellet.  According to one of the authors, a single Orb can contain about 1 milligram of nicotine roughly equal to the amount in a typical cigarette and enough to sicken a small child.  Ingesting a handful of pellets could be lethal.

As part of the FDA’s information collection process, tobacco companies will be submitting their own documents and research.