July 16, 2002

JULY 16, 2002

CONTACT: Melissa Reynolds O'dea, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8552

Attorney General Steven Rowe today called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to halt the marketing of a dangerous new candy-like tobacco product called "Ariva." Ariva resembles a small breath mint, but it delivers as much nicotine as smoking a cigarette. The product contains compressed tobacco powder along with sweeteners, mint and other flavorings. Virginia-based Star Scientific Inc. makes Ariva, and plans to market it nationwide.

"Tobacco products kill more than 440,000 Americans every year and the nicotine in these products keeps children and adults addicted," Rowe said. "Ariva is a mint-flavored, candy-like product that contains nicotine. It's unfortunate that companies think it's acceptable to make products like Ariva, which can be appealing to children."

Maine has made great strides in reducing tobacco use by young people in recent years, reporting a 36% reduction in high school age smokers since 1997 (from 39.2% in 1997 to 25% in 2001). Assistant Attorney General Melissa Reynolds O'Dea, who monitors tobacco advertising and sales for the State, said, "Allowing the sale of tobacco candy to Maine kids would be a real step backward."

In written comments presented today to the FDA, 42 Attorneys General warned that Ariva raises serious public health concerns warranting the FDA's immediate attention. The Attorneys General noted that because the product looks like a breath mint and does not emit smoke or strong tobacco odors when used, parents and teachers may not be able to determine when a child is using this addictive and hazardous substance. Although Star publicly claims that its product is for current smokers, Ariva has many features that appeal to children including: chewing gum-style packaging and candy-like sweetness. The Attorneys General told the FDA that the marketing and packaging for Ariva falsely implies that the product is a healthy alternative to smoking, when in fact it contains toxic and cancer-causing substances. The Attorneys General noted that Ariva is similar to nicotine water, nicotine lollipops and nicotine lip-balm, which the FDA recently regulated as illegal drugs.

In addition to Rowe, Attorneys General from the following states and territories co-signed the FDA letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The Attorneys General comment letter supports a petition calling for FDA regulation of Ariva submitted last year by numerous public health and medical organizations, including: the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Legacy Foundation and numerous other major public health organizations.