Charlotte is test market for smokeless tobacco lozenges
Bite-size dissolvable “orbs” that look like breath mints and melt in your mouth are the tobacco industry’s latest attempt to fight falling U.S. cigarette sales.
Charlotte is one of two test markets for Winston-Salem-based Reynolds American Inc.’s newest products: dissolvable, smokeless tobacco lozenges that come as orbs, sticks or strips.
The products all contain less nicotine than cigarettes, between 0.5 and 3 milligrams instead of 12 to 15. And, Reynolds spokesman David Howard said, they meet a “societal expectation.”
“There’s no secondhand smoke, no spitting and no cigarette butt litter,” Howard said.
But health officials still worry about the risks of smokeless options. Smokeless tobacco users may not get lung cancer, health experts say, but they risk mouth cancer, gum disease and tooth loss. Prenatal dangers for pregnant women also still exist.
“There are no safe tobacco products,” said Dr. Matt Carpenter, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina who’s researching the effect of smokeless products on smoking habits.
Huntersville resident Joey Hodge, who’s smoked for almost five years, sees the appeal of smokeless products that won’t be as tough on his lungs or make him smell like smoke. But the 20-year-old isn’t sold on Reynolds’ newest offering.
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