OLYMPIA - Attorney General Christine Gregoire today warned that a new tobacco product made to look like candy could lure young people into nicotine addiction, and she urged the federal government to regulate the product's marketing and sales.
The product, which goes under the name "Ariva," contains compressed tobacco powder along with sweeteners, mint and other flavorings, and resembles a brand of popular breath mints already on the market. Ariva is now marketed in at least 40 states and is expected to be available in Washington soon.
"We sued tobacco companies to stop them from targeting kids to make them the next generation of addicted tobacco users," Gregoire said. "A key element of the tobacco settlement was to limit young people's exposure to tobacco and the nicotine it contains."
Gregoire said tobacco products of all kinds kill more than 440,000 Americans every year and that the nicotine in these products keep children and adults addicted.
She is one of 42 Attorneys General who today asked the Federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate Ariva.
"Ariva may look and taste like a harmless candy mint, but it could lead to a nicotine addiction and it should be regulated like the dangerous product it is," Gregoire said.
In a letter to the FDA, Attorneys General noted that because the Ariva looks like a breath mint and does not emit smoke or strong tobacco odors when used, parents and teachers may not be able to determine if a child is using the product.
Although its manufacturer publicly claims that Ariva is aimed at current smokers who are in situations where they can't smoke, Ariva has many features that appeal to children, including chewing gum-style packaging and candy-like sweetness.
The Attorneys General told the FDA that the marketing and packaging for Ariva falsely implies that the product is a healthy alternative to smoking, when in fact it contains toxic and cancer-causing substances.
The Attorneys General support a petition calling for FDA regulation of Ariva that was submitted by numerous public health and medical organizations. Organizations supporting FDA regulation include: the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Legacy Foundation and numerous other major public health organizations.