Safer cigarette alternatives in the works

While U.S. tobacco regulations prevent marketers from truthfully informing smokers about lower-risk products, the U.K. appears to be fostering more harm reduction-oriented tobacco laws. The Wall Street Journal reports that tobacco giant British American Tobacco is establishing a new unit — Nicoventures — devoted to the manufacture of “innovative, regulatory-approved” smokeless products. According to the Nicoventures website, “The UK Government’s recently updated public health strategy for England recognizes there are many smokers who may not want to quit smoking but who want a safer alternative to cigarettes.”

ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom was surprised to read that the tobacco company is able to use the phrase “safer alternative to cigarettes” because “that would not fly in this country. They are strictly forbidden from claiming their products are safer unless they obtain FDA approval.” However, the FDA informed Star Scientific Inc. that their newest dissolvable tobacco product had been found to fall outside the purview of the FDA’s tobacco laws.

Meanwhile, a new smokeless tobacco product is being tested in Kansas. Altria Group subsidiaries Philip Morris and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company have teamed up to create smokeless tobacco sticks resembling toothpicks. The two-and-a-half inch wooden sticks are covered two-thirds of the way with finely milled tobacco and can be tossed in the trashcan after use. “These products are likely to be of benefit to addicted smokers who have failed to quit. They supply nicotine but without the lethal products of tobacco combustion,” adds ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. “That’s what harm reduction is all about.”