Monday, April 30, 2007

Minty-fresh addiction

It's hard to know how to feel about this.

Today we got a press kit with samples of Ariva and Stonewall, two new tobacco products. They are advertised as "Smokefree and discreet," which they are. They're essentially wintergreen-flavored tobacco lozenges, which dissolve completely in the mouth and require no spitting.

A Google search turned up an unsurprising controversy, dating back to the beginning of the century, when manufacturer Star Scientific was running the lozenges past the FDA. The standard complaints all seem to apply. Yes, they seem to be a safer alternative to smoking, and thus remove incentive to quit altogether. Yes, they are packaged like candy and can be used, undetected, by kids who know unscrupulous drugstore clerks. Sure, they could present a gateway to full-on tobacco addiction.

My policy regarding things that fit in my mouth and come in the mail is to ingest them, so I did. I am a smoker, after all, and my curiosity was piqued.

The thing is, the lozenge was pretty tasty and made my breath minty fresh, two things I could never say about cigarettes. It left a tingly feeling in my mouth and gave me just a slight stomachache - probably to be expected, since I've never used any kind of smokeless tobacco before.

The materials that came in the press kit say that one lozenge contains about the same amount of nicotine as a light cigarette, but only 20 percent of the nitrosamines (the carcinogenic component of tobacco) in even the lowest-nitrosamine smokeless alternative - so again, it's hard to know how to feel about them. If they were only available to people who offer sworn affidavits affirming that they're nicotine addicts, I think they would be great.

As it is, I'm just glad that they're not currently available anywhere closer than Littleton; we probably need some time to figure out how to keep non-affiants from getting their hands on them.

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