In a move that can only be called unbelievable Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina took to the Senate floor yesterday to defend RJ Reynolds for marketing a new mint flavored candy like tobacco product that seems designed to get kids hooked on nicotine, which is being tested in Ohio, Oregon, and Indiana.
CNN reported on May 27 that the product that RJ Reynolds is testing comes in three forms, sticks that dissolve as you suck them, breath strips, and orbs that look and are packaged like candy. Critics claim that this the latest trick by tobacco companies to get kids hooked on nicotine, and according to the Indiana Poison Control Center one Camel dissolvable equals 300% of the nicotine in a cigarette.
However, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) came to the tobacco company’s defense yesterday, by defending the product as not candy. Yep, his whole defense is that the product isn’t candy. Here is the video courtesy of Think Progress:
Burr said, “But when CNN did their story. Take a guess on the angle that they took. They labeled it as candy. Candy! Even though it’s not candy flavored. They said it was candy. … No, they said it was candy. That’s where they labeled it. … They portrayed Reynolds America as being deceptive and luring children. No candy. It’s not going in the candy section. It’s in the tobacco section where smokeless and stick products is.”
Even though the products are sold in bright colored packaged, some of which are shaped like cell phones, Burr contends that this product isn’t aimed at kids. Of course, his argument is ridiculous because it is illegal for tobacco products to be sold in the candy aisle. The problem here is that this form of tobacco product is unregulated right now, this how the products can contain 300% more nicotine than is found in one cigarette.
It would be more convenient for people me who don’t smoke if nicotine junkies got their fix in a smokeless manner. In all honesty, the tobacco industry depends on getting new and younger people addicted. This is a way to get new consumers hooked on their product without the messiness of smoking.
However as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said, “For years, tobacco companies have deceived consumers and marketed products to children—continually trying to replace the 400,000 customers they lose each year to tobacco-related deaths and illnesses. There is no doubt that smokeless tobacco products are aimed squarely at children. We have a responsibility to protect children from suggestive marketing and dangerous products.”
It is clear that this is another attempt to market their product to kids. Once the product is regulated, I say let it stay on the market. The hypocrisy within the government’s anti-smoking crusade has always been that they try to get people to quit, while it the same they are depending on the tax revenue that smokers generate. I am a live and let live kind of guy, if people want to smoke, it is their business, but these companies can’t be allowed to market their products to children.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association