The poor tobacco industry has been taking some hard hits in the past years. Declining cigarette purchases due to tougher federal, state and local smoking laws have made smoking in public no longer acceptable. Higher cigarette prices brought on by new taxes have made this addictive habit expensive. And a smoking population that is either trying to quit, is aging and in poor health and trying to quit, or smokers who are dying, are decreasing the number of smokers in industrialized nations. All these factors are pushing the tobacco industry into new markets with new products. Supposedly marketed to adults, these new products are easily accessible to kids and some are mistaken for their candy-like appearance. But are these products really tobacco or are they a drug delivery system under a pretense of tobacco?
R.J. Reynolds has been test-marketing three new smokeless tobacco products, Camel Orbs, Camel Sticks, and Camel Strips. This first blog will look at Camel Orbs.
These small pellets are made with finely ground tobacco and flavorings like mint and cinnamon, but with a large amount of nicotine added. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. It is the nicotine in cigarettes that smokers crave and that keeps them hooked. The amount of nicotine in the Orbs can easily start them on a life-long addiction to nicotine, or poison them if consumed in large amounts. A one year old could suffer mild to moderate nicotine poisoning by ingesting 8 to 14 Orbs; 10 to 17 Orbs could result in severe toxicity or death. It would take 13 to 21 Orbs for a four year old to have mild to moderate nicotine poisoning; 16 to 27 Orbs for severe toxicity or death. A three-year old in Portland, Oregon, where Orbs were test-marketed, was poisoned after ingesting this product.
Once the orb dissolves, the nicotine travels quickly into your system. Nicotine causes the body to release adrenaline. Adrenaline causes your heart to work harder by increasing your heart rate which in turn causes your blood pressure to go up. Once nicotine reaches the brain, a series of chemical reactions take place making the user more alert, but also more relaxed. Other reactions within the brain release a feeling of happiness. This feeling of happiness encourages more use of the product, to get that “high,” which leads to addiction.
A Reynolds spokesman said the Orbs were in child-resistant containers and were marketed for adults only and denied they looked like Tic Tac mints. If the packaging is in a child-resistant container, how was a three-year old child able to open it? Students could sit in class, use the product and you would never know.
Do Orbs look like Tic Tacs? You be the judge.