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New Cigarettes Look Like Candy

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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?

camel-orbs-kids.jpg

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?

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11 comments so far | Post a comment now
J February 27, 2009, 3:31 PM

As an adult I feel it is a shame that I cannot enjoy this product without it being criticized for being marketed towards children. Smokeless tobacco is undeniably safer than smoking and new products seem to be a perfect opportunity for me, someone who isn’t satisfied with the current selection of smokeless products but would prefer it to smoking given better options. If you don’t want your child using these products, don’t let them have them. I know minors will still get their hands on them, but if you don’t want your kids to do it talk to them and tell them exactly what the problem with it is, but please don’t infringe on my rights.

Kirstie February 27, 2009, 10:05 PM

Frankly, little kids don’t really need to be toting around breath mints anyway - they’re not sweet like candy, why do they have them?

And secondly, minors are much more likely to be actually smoking, not indulging in smokeless tobacco. No one can see your tobacco-flavored strip, so where’s the “cool factor”?

Common Sense February 27, 2009, 10:12 PM

Teens are smoking Marlboro Reds and they aren’t marketed to kids. Neither are dozens upon dozens of other brands yet teens are still smoking. Wise up…it is NOT about the marketing!!!

Rachel February 28, 2009, 5:31 PM

I totally agree with Common Sense…as someone who started smoking as a teenager, it had nothing to do with the marketing or advertising. It had to do with just smoking itself. And once I started, I experimented with all different brands until I found one I liked the taste of best. I didn’t smoke a certain brand because it had a cartoon camel on it. That’s ridiculous.

Lise March 2, 2009, 1:23 PM

I agree with common sense.

I started smoking when i was 9. NINE! and I stole my cigarettes from my mother, whole packs at a time. I quit when a was 20. I didn’t start smoking cause it looked like a “kid” thing to do, i started because it seemed very adult. I smoked Marlboro lights, because my mom smoked them i think the best thing you can do to keep your kid from smoking is quit smoking yourself, and keep a close eye on them. if my mom had bothered to check up on me, she would have found whole packs of cigarettes in my backpack.

Lise March 2, 2009, 1:38 PM

I agree with common sense.

I started smoking when i was 9. NINE! and I stole my cigarettes from my mother, whole packs at a time. I quit when a was 20. I didn’t start smoking cause it looked like a “kid” thing to do, i started because it seemed very adult. I smoked Marlboro lights, because my mom smoked them i think the best thing you can do to keep your kid from smoking is quit smoking yourself, and keep a close eye on them. if my mom had bothered to check up on me, she would have found whole packs of cigarettes in my backpack.

Allison March 3, 2009, 9:36 PM

Someone made a good point earlier that kids smoke to be cool. Popping a “mint” in your mouth on the way to class isn’t going to get the attention of the older or cooler kids that they want to be like. Marketing is a great tool to get the word out there, but I think too many kids smoke to look like an adult or look cool, so why should they carry something around that no one can even see!

tazman March 5, 2009, 12:20 AM

hav you tasted the orbs? i cant think of any kid that woulde keep it in there mouth they are the worst tasting tabacco i hav ever seen

Gail Cooke March 10, 2009, 2:51 PM

I think that the marketing scheme is plain wrong. When I first looked at it, I did think it was some kind of candy/breath mint.

It’s too easy for this product for a child to be influenced by this packaging. I think that the cigarrette company should be encouraged (read forced) to change the packaging.

Brenden September 17, 2010, 5:47 PM

there is no such thing as underage smoking, just get your fact strait

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