Attorney General Lockyer Criticizes U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Refusal to Regulate Dangerous 'Tobacco Candy' Product

Friday, August 29, 2003
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today expressed disappointment that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to not regulate a dangerous candy-like tobacco product called Ariva.

"The FDA's refusal to protect the public from this tobacco candy is short-sighted and leaves children particularly vulnerable," said Lockyer. "The FDA's inaction makes it urgent that Congress grant the FDA explicit authority to regulate all tobacco and nicotine products."

Ariva looks like a small candy mint, but it delivers as much nicotine as a cigarette. The product contains compressed tobacco powder, sweeteners, mint and other flavorings. Virginia-based Star Scientific Inc. makes Ariva, and markets it nationwide.

Lockyer, joined by 41 other Attorneys General, submitted written comments to the FDA on July 16, 2002 urging the FDA to assert regulatory jurisdiction over Ariva, with an eye toward halting marketing of the product. The comments supported petitions filed with the FDA by numerous health advocacy groups and a major drug company.

The Attorneys General warned that, because the product looks like a breath mint and does not emit smoke or strong tobacco odors when used, it is particularly attractive to children. Those features make it difficult for parents and teachers to determine when a child is using Ariva, the comments noted. Additionally, Lockyer and the other Attorneys General told the FDA that the marketing and packaging for Ariva falsely imply the product is a healthy alternative to smoking, when in fact it contains toxic and cancer-causing substances.

In declining to regulate Ariva, the FDA said in a letter to the petitioners today that Ariva is a "customarily marketed" tobacco product, and that the courts have ruled the agency does not have statutory authority to regulate such products.

On August 15, 2002, Lockyer and 36 other Attorneys Generals wrote to members of Congress urging them to promptly enact legislation granting the FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and sale of tobacco products. Congress has yet to act.

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