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Are we allowed to stone tobacco executives yet?

April 29, 2010

The Annual RJ Reynolds Alumni Party

You’re never going to believe this, but the tobacco industry is pulling some seriously shady shit. From the New York Times:

A research study and editorial to be published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics takes direct aim at a novel tobacco product that some critics say too closely resembles Tic Tac breath mints.

R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, the nation’s second-largest cigarette maker behind Philip Morris, is test marketing the product, Camel Orbs, along with other dissolvable tobacco products, in three cities.

–snip–

The study says Orbs, pellets made of finely ground tobacco with mint or cinnamon flavoring, are packed with nicotine and can poison children and lure young people to start using tobacco. The pellets dissolve in the mouth, like breath mints.

Here’s what the Orbs look like:Wait, so, New York Times, are you suggesting that this packaging might be intended to attract children, thus creating a new generation of nicotine addicts? That can’t be, because look, here’s a guy who works for RJ Reynolds who says it’s not (from the same story):

David Howard, a Reynolds spokesman, said Camel Orbs were marketed only for adults and come in child-resistant containers. He denied that they look like Tic Tac mints.

“Those packages don’t at all look alike to me,” Mr. Howard said in an interview Friday.

You know, David Howard seems like a nice guy. I mean, he’s in PR, and those folks are usually pretty trustworthy. Do critics really think the Orbs packaging resembles this:Or this: Or this:

Or this:

Hm. Actually, they may have a point. I want to be with you on this, David Howard, but now I feel conflicted. Do you have any other arguments? What’s that? You do? Well, spin that magic, David Howard:

Mr. Howard of Reynolds said it was unfair to criticize the flavoring of Camel Orbs because many other products, including the quit-smoking aid Nicogum, come in flavors. Mr. Howard also said many other common products posed risks to infants or children from accidental ingestion.

“Virtually every household has products that could be hazardous to children, like cleaning supplies, medicines, health and beauty products, and you compare that to 20 to 25 percent of households that use tobacco products,” he said.

Ah, see? Now we’re onto something. That’s so true, what David Howard said, isn’t it? Why just the other day my son, Lucas, got into a bottle of Happy Bunny Bubble Gum Flavored Paint Thinner (I think he was trying to get to the prize at the bottom of the bottle). And all I could do was throw up my hands. Kids!

But as you know, some people are just never satisfied, no matter how air-tight the argument. People like Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, where Orbs are currently being test marketed. Merkley sponsored legislation requiring RJ Reynolds to provide the FDA with around 13,000 pages of research into dissolvable tobacco (boooooring). Here’s what Mr. Turd-In-the-Punchbowl had to say about Orbs (again, from the Times story):

“They’re tobacco candy,” Senator Merkley said Friday. “Everything about them is designed for kids. We know from research that for people to be addicted to nicotine, you’ve got to get them before 21 when their brain is still developing.”

I can only assume this nicotine breath mint idea was the compromise when the R&D team’s suggestions of nicotine-laced pacifiers and lollipops were deemed too over-the-top.

RJ Reynolds leadership information can be found here, and David Howard (if he hasn’t run his car with the garage door closed yet) can be reached at Howardd1@RJRT.com, or (336) 741-3489, according to a press release I found online. Fuckbags.

I’ll leave you with Martin Short’s brilliant Nathan Thurm. I tried to find the skit where he appeared as a tobacco industry lawyer, but no luck. If David Howard isn’t exactly like this, I’ll eat a tin of Camel Orbs.

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