Sen. Jeff Merkley is leading a crusade to take candy away from children - tobacco candy, that is.
The junior senator from Oregon's target is an array of new tobacco products that look like breath mints and dissolve in the mouth, such as R.J. Reynolds's "Camel Orbs," currently being test-marketed in three cities including Portland.
In a video on his website, Merkley shows an Orbs package and explains how it's designed to have the silhouette of a cell phone when carried in a pocket so parents and teachers can't detect it.
The tablets come in two flavors, caramel (called "Mellow") and mint (called "Fresh"). According to Merkley each one contains from 60% to 300% of the nicotine in a cigarette.
In the video, Merkley says tobacco companies "believe that in the future a lot of people aren't going to smoke ... so the goal is to hook a new generation of children on these tobacco candies. ... Janitors are finding these [packages] in wastebaskets, so they're definitely getting into the hands of children."
Merkley and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) added an amendment to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act - signed into law by President Obama on Monday - that requires the new Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee to fast-track a study of the public health effects of tobacco candy and report its findings to the Food and Drug Administration.
Merkley and Brown's ultimate goal is to force the tobacco candy off the market - a goal that The Eye supports 110%. If there's any form of life lower than a tobacco company executive who markets candy to kids to get them addicted to nicotine, we hope we never encounter it.