Health experts issue warning about tobacco product

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Health departments in Utah are issuing a warning about an alternative to common tobacco products. Officials say tobacco companies are beginning to market nicotine candy and fear people don't understand what they are using.

Though the products look like gum or candy, they carry a punch of nicotine. And don't be confused: They aren't products to help you stop smoking. Health officials say they are meant to deliver a fast dose of nicotine for someone looking for a quick fix.

Dissolves in aboutMg of Nicotine
Orbs10-15 minutes1.0
Strips2-3 minutes0.6
Sticks20-25 minutes3.1
Snusdoesn't dissolve6-8

"They are not like the nicotine replacement products which are regulated by a doctor and have careful instructions. These don't do that," says pediatrician Dr. Ellie Brownstein. The health departments blame big tobacco companies for inventing the new products and marketing them as an alternative to smoking, such as during work or while on flight, when tobacco use is prohibited. But health officials believe there could be an underlying reason.

"Tobacco companies spend nearly $60 million a year here in Utah on their marketing, and they are eager for new customers to replace those who die each year from their deadly products. Products such as the ones we see here today show they are not relaxing their efforts, and neither can we," says Kathy Baebler, health educator with the Salt Lake Valley Health Department.

**Toxicity of nicotine in children**
1 yr old Mild/Moderate1 yr old Severe/death4 yr old Mild/Moderate4 yr old Severe/Death

SLVHD sees these products as a real danger to young children, who may confuse them for gum or candy, and to teenagers, who can become addicted to nicotine and exposed to serious health risks in the future. "Those add oral cancer, gum disease, nicotine addiction, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks to the list, and parents and teachers are given one more dangerous behavior to police," says Amy Sands, manager of the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at the Utah Department of Health.

Officials hope that parents will talk to their children about the dangers of these nicotine products and warn them that just because it comes in a cool looking package, it is still unhealthy.


Story compiled with contributions from Sam Penrod and Becky Bruce.


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