Camel Orbs, a flavored Tic Tac-like tobacco-containing pellet introduced last year by R.J. Reynolds, poses a threat to children, according to a new study published in Pediatrics.
The smokeless tobacco product is supposed to be used by smokers when they can’t light up. It contains 1 mg of nicotine, about half that received by smoking one cigarette.
This amount can cause nausea and vomiting in a small child (a lethal dose of nicotine for an infant is about 1.0 mg/kg body weight). The problem is made worse by the fact that the Orb contains a highly bio-available form of nicotine.
To reach these conclusions, Hillel Alpert and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed 13,705 tobacco product ingestion cases by children under 6 years of age that were reported to 61 regional poison control centers between 2006 and 2008.
The scientists counted 13,705 cases of tobacco product ingestion, more than 70% of which involved infants less than 1 year of age. Orbs came in second only to cigarettes themselves as the substance ingested by the kids. There was one death.
In an accompanying editorial, Marisa Cruz and Lawrence Deyton of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products said their agency has requested information from RJR and will be seeking “research around the impact of marketing for dissolvable tobacco products on young people, how adolescents and young adults perceive such products, and whether dissolvable tobacco products may lead to initiation or persistence of tobacco use in this population.”
An RJR spokesperson said the company hadn’t known of any pediatric adverse events caused by Orbs ingestion before the article was published. He added that Orbs taste like tobacco despite the candy-like flavorings and that the packaging meets government standards for child resistance.