Senate Health Committee Adopts Merkley-Brown Amendment on Tobacco Candy

Washington, DC
– The Senate Committee on Health,
Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) today approved an amendment from Senators
Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio focused on nefarious new
products – tobacco candy.  The amendment was approved as part of new
landmark legislation to allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate

“Tobacco candies are clearly designed to appeal to children
through both packaging and taste.  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,” said

“For years, tobacco companies have deceived consumers and
marketed products to children—continually trying to replace the 400,000
customers they lose each year to tobacco-related deaths and illnesses,” Brown
said. “There is no doubt that smokeless tobacco products are aimed squarely at
children. We have a responsibility to protect children from suggestive
marketing and dangerous products.”

Tobacco candies are smokeless, dissolvable tobacco
products.  One variety, called “Camel Orbs”, is currently being
test-marketing by RJ Reynolds in three cities, including Portland, Oregon, and
Columbus, Ohio.  The Orbs come in two flavors – “mellow” and “fresh” – and
are sold in containers designed to resemble cell phones.  From a distance,
the packaging and design of the individual Orbs are virtually indistinguishable
from breath mints.

The legislation under consideration by the HELP Committee
will for the first time ever give the FDA the legal authority to regulate
tobacco products.  Under the bill, the FDA would be able to regulate the
content of cigarettes and other tobacco products to make them less toxic, set
rules governing warning labels and marketing, review previously secret tobacco
industry research, and decide whether new tobacco products may be sold in the
United States. 

The Merkley-Brown amendment would require the new Tobacco
Products Scientific Advisory Committee to immediately study the public health
effects of tobacco candy and report to the Food and Drug Administration on its
findings.  The Committee’s recommendations will provide the FDA with all
the information it needs to act promptly on the question of the public health
impact of these tobacco candy products, particularly as those risks pertain to
children, and take steps to prevent these products from being widely marketed
and sold.

The HELP Committee is expected to conclude work on the
Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in the next few days.