Bill could restrict sale of candy-like tobacco products


Iowa legislators are considering restricting the availability of “dissolvable” tobacco products they say look and taste too much like candy and therefore target minors.

Some local stores, such as CVS, Old Capitol Town Center, and the Tobacco Bowl, 111 S. Dubuque St. would no longer be unable to sell dissolvable nicotine if the legislation is passed.

Under the proposal, only businesses with 90 percent of gross sales coming from tobacco products and that only allow customers 18 and older to enter the store could continue selling the products.

The Iowa Senate could vote on a bill as soon as next week.

Marlboro Snus and Ariva dissolvable tobacco products are both available in Iowa, and Camel markets a similar product in Indiana and Ohio.

Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, said increased presence of the products influenced the Senate’s Human Resource Committee to approve a bill Feb. 22 limiting locations of sale.

“They’re highly addictive products and have a lot of nicotine in them, and they’re being sold as something they really aren’t,” he said.

The Camel product comes in a green case featuring its trademark animal silhouetted against a blue background. Underneath the name “Orbs,” “fresh” and “dissolvable tobacco” are written in increasingly small font sizes.

R.J. Reynolds, which makes Camel products, addressed the issue in a June 2010 press release. The document emphasized the distinction between Camel’s tobacco products and mints or candy, and said dissolvable products are made for and marketed to adult tobacco consumers.

Josh Schloemer, a cashier at Cigarette Outlet, 465 Highway 965 S., said the store meets both requirements in the bill and would be able to continue selling the products if the bill passed. The store frequently sells Marlboro Snus, a dissolvable tobacco product.

The 20-year-old said much of the shop’s dissolvable tobacco sales originate with buy-one-get-one-free coupons included in cigarette packages. But they’re not too popular overall.

“I think people might not be as aware of [the products],” Schloemer said.

Though the Tobacco Bowl would not be allowed to sell the product because it admits minors into the store, owner Tom Connolly said the bill would hardly affect his business, which sells a wide variety of tobacco products, coffee, tea, and other beverages.

“I think it’s somewhat frivolous legislation,” he said.

But Hogg said the legislative move is more of a preventative measure, based on the tobacco’s popularity in Midwestern states. The Indiana House passed a bill Feb. 15 requiring dissolvable tobacco to be stocked behind the counter, and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown displayed similar opposition.

Sen. Robert Bacon, R-Maxwell, voted against the bill, which he regarded as unnecessary. He said he believes the product’s packaging is clearly different from that of candy and mints.

“It looks like a Tic-Tac, but it isn’t packaged like a Tic-Tac,” he said. “It has warnings on it, and it’ll be behind the counter.”

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