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In 2009, RJ Reynolds (RJR) introduced dissolvable tobacco products in three test markets in the USA (figure 1A). ‘Camel Dissolvables,’ which come in the form of orbs, strips and sticks, are made from finely milled tobacco and are intended to dissolve in the mouth without expectoration.1
Nearly identical dissolvable tobacco products were introduced into Taiwanese markets under the brand name Revo in 2010 (figure 1B). The size, shape and packaging of Revo resemble those of the Camel Dissolvables. Revo packaging indicates that the products are made by ‘Reynolds Tobacco Company, Winston-Salem, NC’.
According to former RJR CEO Susan Ivey, Camel Dissolvables ‘offer adult consumers the most discrete and convenient way to enjoy tobacco today’. Ivey has also stated RJR's desired intention to market Camel Dissolvables as a reduced-risk product, if given approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).2
Camel Dissolvables are not the only dissolvable tobacco products marketed in the USA. For nearly a decade, Star Scientific's Ariva and Stonewall dissolvable tobacco tablets have been sold.3 In 2011, Altria introduced Marlboro Sticks and Skoal Sticks into test markets. Marlboro Sticks and Skoal Sticks consist of a slim wooden dowel coated in finely milled tobacco.4 However, the introduction of Revo in Taiwan is the first known dissolvable tobacco product sold outside the USA, and may represent a precursor to future tobacco product sale and distribution by the industry.
The results of Camel Dissolvable and Revo product analyses, including levels of nicotine and other toxins and the efficiency of nicotine absorption, are not yet available to the mainstream scientific community. Information on consumer's risk perceptions, motivations for use and the likelihood of dual use with cigarettes is also required to assess the potential for promoting initiation and dependence. Further, because these products are small and resemble foodstuffs more than tobacco, concerns have been expressed over their appeal to youth, and the potential for child ingestion and accidental poisoning.5
In the USA, the FDA's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee is scheduled to release a report in March 2012 on the impact of dissolvable tobacco products on population health, including paediatric health.6 This report may provide insightful guidance on the regulatory policies needed to protect youth and the general public from these new forms of tobacco. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which calls for the regulation of tobacco product contents (Article 9) and tobacco product disclosure (Article 10), may also serve as a mechanism to control potential harms associated with these new products.7
While it is not known whether RJR is selling dissolvable tobacco products in other countries, the introduction of these products highlights the need for improved global surveillance of new tobacco products. National and local public health agencies must remain cognizant of new and novel tobacco products. To ensure that dissolvable tobacco products do not promote initiation and dependence among youth and other targeted groups, appropriate tobacco control policies and regulations must be applied. Such regulations may include requiring tobacco manufacturers to report the sale of new products and product ingredients, banning flavours that may appeal to youth and prohibiting unsubstantiated claims.
Funding NCI grant # RO1-CA-125224.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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