Reynolds' Smokeless Tobacco Products

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A front-page article in today s Wall Street Journal reports, Confronted with the inexorable decline of cigarette sales, Reynolds is transforming itself into a company that also offers an array of smokeless alternatives -- including strips, lozenges, and snuff. Reynolds push into the products comes amid an intensifying debate among public-health professionals about how oral forms of tobacco should be regulated.

We have talked here a lot about smokeless tobacco, and for years we basically meant that to be synonymous with Swedish-style snus, says ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. What we re looking at now is a fuller spectrum of nicotine delivery products derived from tobacco. These strips, lozenges, and snuff are what is known as clean nicotine delivery systems. That is, the user gets a nicotine hit without inhaling the products of combustion, the characteristic of cigarettes. And that is good news for cigarette smokers who want to quit.

There are a few reasons why so many people doubt Reynolds intentions, which would benefit public health, says ACSH s Jeff Stier. First, they re prohibited by the FDA from claiming that these products are less harmful; second, people don t trust tobacco companies, understandably; third, most people operate under the misconception that the nicotine is the harmful component of cigarettes, which it isn t. Reynolds is not allowed to address the third point because of the first two.

Regardless of these obstacles, the trend is clear that the market for cigarettes has, thankfully, been going down the drain over the course of the last few decades, says ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross. Reynolds is still looking to make a profit, and the nation s 45 million addicted smokers continue to crave nicotine. Now they can get it in less harmful ways.

The Journal cites ACSH as a supporter of harm-reduction for smokers: Although some groups, including the American Council on Science and Health, argue that smokeless tobacco is less harmful, and that smokers should be encouraged to switch to it, federal rules prohibit companies from marketing t