A couple of state senators propose new restrictions on “candy” that contains nicotine. Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says the candy he’s targeting has up to three times as much nicotine as in a single cigarette.
“Iowans need to know that these sorts of products are addictive, they’re loaded with nicotine and we’ve really got to make an extra effort to safeguard our children from them because this is an accident waiting to happen,” Hogg says.
The danger is for kids under the age of six, who can be poisoned by the nicotine in the candy according to Hogg. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says the tobacco industry has created these products to try to get kids hooked on nicotine.
“Let me put it to you quite simply: the tobacco industry kills its customers and so they have to be constantly recruiting new customers,” Quirmbach says. “…That’s what these products are all about. They look like candy. I’m told they taste like candy. They smell like candy.”
The products are now available for sale in grocery and convenience stores, from behind the counter where clerks sell to customers who’re over the age of 18. The senators propose preventing sales in those stores, so the nicotine-laced candy would only be sold at stores in Iowa which exclusively sell tobacco products. Cathy Callaway of the American Cancer Society says similar legislation is pending in several states.
“These are not the same tobacco products that were around in the ’70s, ’80s, even in the ’90s,” she says.
Hogg says he knew nothing of this nicotine-laced candy until a constituent complained to him about it.
“I was shocked that there are products out there that look so much like candy, that are strawberry flavor or banana flavored or cinnamon flavored, and it’s just wrong,” Hogg says. “It’s enticing people to use these highly-addictive products and especially dangerous for children.”
Children who are less than a year old can die from ingesting the level of nicotine that is in some of the candy Hogg displayed at a statehouse news conference earlier today. Some of the nicotine candy looks like hard mints and some dissolves on the tongue like breath strips.
A spokesman for R.J. Reynolds disputes the statements from Hogg and the Cancer Society’s Callaway that the products from his company which were featured at today’s news conference are being sold in Iowa. David Howard, senior director of communications for Reynolds American Services, says “Orbs” has been sold in three test markets, none of which are in Iowa, and all the products have “child-resistant packaging” as well as the same warning labels that are on a pack of cigarettes.
Listen to the full news conference here: nicotine candy 15:00 MP3
Photo courtesy of the American Cancer Society.
(This story was updated at 6:10 p.m.)