The Orbs package looks like a plastic box of breath mints, but it's really a new tobacco product. Are they marketing this toward our children?
Some critics in Portland, Oregon say a new tobacco product looks too much like candy. They said it could be difficult to tell that the product isn't candy because the case looks like a mint, but it packs more nicotine than most cigarettes.
Orbs Dissolvable Tobacco is being test marketed in Portland and several other cities by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. The pellets of what Reynolds calls dissolvable tobacco look like a candy mint. (Reynolds plans to test the Orbs in a chewable stick and a strip form later this spring.)
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids isn't too happy about R.J. Reynolds' latest cigarette incarnation: "They are likely to appeal to children because they are flavored and packaged like candy, are easy to conceal even in a classroom, and carry the Camel brand that is already so popular with underage smokers."As a pediatrician, the Orbs product and packaging disturbs Dr. Cara Natterson. "Yes, it bothers me. And frankly, I don't get it," she says. "Tobacco has a slew of associated health risks, including a well known association between chewing tobacco and oral cancers. Did a new product really need to be introduced? Even if it is difficult for children to get hold of, I would imagine that it's dangerous for adult users, too."
An R.J. Reynolds spokesman said the product is meant for adults and has warning labels on the package. The Orbs product is stored behind the counter in stores, to be sold only to those 18 or older.
But R.J. Reynolds cigarettes have a long history of allegedly marketing to children. In 1997 Joe Camel was stricken from advertisements after a 1991 report, (well, long after the report) from the Journal of the American Medical Association, that concluded more young children could recognize the cartoon camel than could recognize Mickey Mouse.
As recently as 2005, flavored cigarettes with yummy names like Mandarin Mint, Izmar Stinger, Twist, and Creamy Mellow Mint caused an uproar and were eventually pulled from the shelves. The company finally agreed to "stop identifying cigarettes with candy, fruit, desserts or alcoholic beverage names, imagery or ads."
Um, does putting smokeless cigarettes in packaging that resembles candy tins count?
Click to see "Marketing Mishaps" gallery.