Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Thursday, July 18, 2002.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Miller Asks FDA to Halt Marketing Of New Tobacco and Nicotine Lozenge

DES MOINES. Attorney General Tom Miller and other state attorney generals are calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt marketing of a dangerous new candy-like tobacco product called "Ariva" that contains nicotine and other hazardous chemicals. The product has not been tested for health and safety purposes, they said.

Ariva is a mint-flavored, candy-like product that looks like a small breath mint, but delivers as much nicotine as smoking a cigarette. The product contains compressed tobacco powder along with sweeteners, mint and other flavorings. Ariva is marketed by Virginia-based Star Scientific Inc. Unlike nicotine gum, Ariva is fully ingested and has not been tested for safety.

"This product is being rushed to the market place without FDA approval, even though it will deliver nicotine and probably contains other potentially toxic and carcinogenic compounds," Miller said. "It also has a high potential for use and abuse by young people. That's a bad combination."

Forty-one state attorney generals joined in a comment letter to the FDA issued Tuesday, asking the agency to regulate Ariva before the product becomes more widely available in the market. They applauded the FDA's recent actions to halt marketing of nicotine water and nicotine lip balm, and urged the FDA also to regulate the Ariva nicotine lozenge. The letter noted that nicotine may be fatal if ingested, and that exposure can cause liver and kidney damage, cardiovascular system injury and other harm.

The letter focused especially on dangers Ariva presents to young people. "We point out that Ariva is likely to appeal to children, but is dangerous," Miller said. "Star Scientific claims the product is for current smokers who are in no-smoking situations such as airplanes or restaurants, but Ariva has features that will appeal to children, including its small size, relatively low cost, and mint flavor to cover the unpleasantness for a new user in having tobacco in the mouth."

The same features, and the fact that the tobacco product doesn't release smoke or tobacco odors, would make it easy for parents and teachers to be unaware of children's use of the addictive and hazardous product. Ariva is packaged similar to chewing gums and the packaging features images of blue sky and clean water. (See Ariva web site: www.goariva.com.)

The attorney generals noted that statements on the package, including "This product is for adult tobacco users only," and "Keep away from children and adolescents" often have a "forbidden fruit" effect of actually appealing to some children. The letter said, "Traditional tobacco products have long been successfully marketed to young people by presenting them as an illicit pleasure" initiating them into the adult world.

Societal Cost of Tobacco

"A thousand kids take up smoking every month in Iowa," Miller said. "We don't need more products that lead to addicted young people. Young tobacco-users are filling in the ranks for about 5,000 Iowans who die each year from tobacco-related disease."

Miller noted that cigarette smoking continues to be the principal cause of premature death in the United States and imposes substantial costs on society. For each of the approximately 22 billion packs sold in the U.S. in 1999, $3.45 was spent on medical care attributable to smoking, and $3.73 in productivity losses were incurred, for a total societal cost of $7.18 per pack, the Centers for Disease Control estimated recently.

"For every pack of cigarettes sold in the US, we have over $7 in societal costs," Miller said. "That's an astronomical cost for all of us. We don't need more products that are dangerous and addictive for our young people, and that simply perpetuate the enormous costs we all are paying."

The attorney generals' comment letter, issued Tuesday, supports a petition calling for FDA regulation of Ariva submitted by numerous public health and medical organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the National Education Association, and many other public health organizations.

Click here for a copy of the Ariva comments (in PDF format).

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