Senate bill takes aim at ‘tobacco candy’

WASHINGTON (AP) — They’re the newest smoke-free tobacco products — dissolvable pellets or strips that don’t require users to chew or even spit. Sold in shiny plastic cases, the products melt in your mouth like breath mints.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is test-marketing dissolvable products in three cities and says they are designed for adults.

Some lawmakers disagree. They call the products tobacco candy and say they are designed with one thing in mind: to get kids hooked on nicotine. They want to give the government power to restrict sales.

“Tobacco candies are clearly designed to appeal to children through both packaging and taste,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. “This is not a safe product. This is not safe tobacco. It is a product that, like cigarettes, causes cancer and kills.”

Merkley and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, have co-sponsored a provision in the Senate tobacco bill requiring the government to study health effects of dissolvable tobacco. The Food and Drug Administration would be given authority to restrict how the products are marketed and sold.