tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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R.J.Reynolds’s innovation draws interest of FDA

The evolution of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. may be shaped in large part by how well it can live down — and learn from — its past.

Reynolds received another clear example of that reality last week when the Food and Drug Administration requested research on the company’s three innovative dissolvable smokeless products — Camel Orbs, Camel Sticks and Camel Strips — and others being considered.

The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee was formed as part of the FDA taking on oversight of the tobacco industry last year.

Reynolds said that the flavored, finely milled tobacco products serve as an alternative to cigarettes, giving adults a discreet option in venues where smoking is banned out of concern for secondhand smoke exposure. They are being sold in three test markets, none in North Carolina.

The FDA acknowledges that Reynolds is marketing the products to adult consumers.

“The center is concerned that children and adolescents may find dissolvable tobacco products particularly appealing, given the brightly colored packaging, candy-like appearance and easily concealable size of many of these products,” Dr. Lawrence Deyton, the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, wrote in a letter.

The letter was sent to Reynolds and Star Scientific, another producer of smokeless products containing nicotine.

In connection with the dissolvable products, tobacco critics have raised the vision of Joe Camel, the iconic cartoon image that sharply raised Camel’s brand profile in the 1980s and 1990s. Joe Camel eventually fell victim to the increasingly public war over how Camel cigarettes are marketed, particularly when it comes to images that might appeal to young consumers.

However, a federal judge ruled on Jan. 5 that tobacco manufacturers can continue to use color and graphics in marketing their products. Judge Joseph McKinley Jr. of U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky also ruled that manufacturers can claim a product is safer if it gains FDA approval.

The tobacco-products center wants the companies to turn over by April 1 all information related to how people ages 25 and under may perceive the dissolvable products.

“We are also concerned about the extent to which the high nicotine content and rapid dissolution of dissolvable tobacco products may facilitate initiation of tobacco use, nicotine dependence and addiction in adolescents, and may serve as a mechanism for inadvertent toxicity in children,” Deyton said.

David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds, said that the company is reviewing the request. “We will provide an appropriate response that we hope will help the center in evaluating our dissolvable tobacco products,” he said.

The center’s request strikes at the core of Reynolds’ attempt to create a reputation as an innovator of products that could be less harmful to consumers than cigarettes. Reynolds recently bought a company, Niconovum, that specializes in smoking-cessation products.

A major reason why there is doubt about Reynolds’ intentions goes back to an image from 1994 that it may never shake — James Johnston, its then-chairman, and six other stone-faced tobacco executives testifying before a congressional subcommittee that nicotine was not addictive.

Those statements, as well as the definitional word play regarding addiction and habit, created a level of distrust among critics for the motives of Reynolds and other manufacturers.

In May 2007, Reynolds issued its guiding principles on tobacco regulation, acknowledging that “smoking causes serious disease,” “nicotine in tobacco products is addictive, but not considered a significant threat to health” and “no tobacco product has been shown to be safe.”

Yet, for some tobacco-industry critics, those words ring hollow.

“We are dealing with a company whose own internal documents have spoken about the need to attract youth,” said Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“A product for which there is legitimate concern that it appeals disproportionately to youth. A company that publicly and repeatedly has denied ever marketing to youth, despite all of the evidence to the contrary — even when it was using cartoon characters,” Myers said.

He said he supports the FDA’s request as part of “requiring tobacco companies to disclose previously secret data and research concerning new products and their marketing.”

“Never before have tobacco companies faced such scrutiny by an agency with regulatory authority,” Myers said.

Speculation about the availability of the dissolvable products has some critics and supporters pondering what are the responsibility of manufacturers and retailers when products meant for adults wind up second- or thirdhand in the hands of youths.

For example, several advocacy groups and physicians are decrying beer advertisements during today’s Super Bowl. They said that the ads give beer a tacit societal approval while being too alluring to teenagers to resist.

“The commercials during the Super Bowl can be just as captivating as the game, so it’s important we pay attention to what the alcohol ads are saying and how those messages are interpreted,” Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology at Purdue University, said in an article posted on

“Drink responsibly was originally a prevention message that was hijacked by the alcohol industry, and is now a central component of their marketing and advertising.

“I think there is an inherent ethical issue,” Barry said. “The objective of these commercials is to sell more beer, yet brewers are using a public-health message that would imply less, not more.”

Bill Godshall, the executive director of SmokeFree Pennsylvania, said he welcomes “open-minded” research that determines whether smokeless-tobacco products and electronic cigarettes are less-harmful options.

What he doesn’t like, he said, is politicians and anti-tobacco advocates “grandstanding” with accusations of Reynolds “target marketing candy tobacco to children without providing any evidence to back up their theatrical allegations.”

“If the allegations were true, it would mean that Reynolds was in violation of the Master Settlement Agreement and/or state laws that prohibit tobacco sales to minors,” Godshall said.

“So far, the state attorneys general have yet to accuse or charge Reynolds of doing so.”

By Richard Craver,
February 7, 2010

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