You just never know what I’m going to talk about. I don’t know until I see something that resonates with me and makes me go, hmmmm! Recently, I read an article about a new product scheduled to be released by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. That product, dissolvable tobacco, will be aimed at women.
Dissolvable tobacco is not new. I’ve been familiar with it for more than forty years. In its former life, it was called snuff.
My maternal great-grandmother dipped snuff. She placed the powdered tobacco in her mouth between the bottom lip and her gums. She’d leave it there until it dissolved, then she’d spit it out. My great-grande had a cute little spittoon that she’d spit into. Much unlike my grandfather who also dipped snuff. He’d just let it out wherever.
If he was in the house he’d send one of us to, “Go get my spittoon.” UGH! The spittoon would usually have residual spit in it and crusted tobacco stains around the rim. Gratefully, my grandmother would often step in and stop this cruel torture.
Snuff is made from ground or pulverised tobacco leaves. In the English speaking world the word traditionally refers to dry, fine, nasal snuff. In the United States and Canada, “snuff” can also refer to dipping tobacco, which is applied to the gums behind the bottom lip rather than inhaled. A spanish monk observed Native peoples of modern-day Haiti taking snuff as early as 1493.
Snuff reached native Africans before white Europeans did. In Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, the Igbo villagers were regular snuff-users. In South Africa and Nigeria, snuff is still popular among the older generation.
I thought this antiquated habit had gone out of style until we reached adulthood and my cousin married a girl who dipped snuff. In fact, all of her sisters dipped snuff, too. My sister and I would socialize with them and then rush back home to dissolve into laughter.
It is still surprising, 30 years later, to discover an industry article disclosing Reynolds’ plans to market Camel brand dissolvable tobacco directly to women. It seems women have been an elusive consumer group. So, R. J. Reynolds has come up with flavored, finely milled, tobacco products that can serve as an alternative to smoking cigarettes.
These products will include: Camel Sticks which are flavored and are shaped similar to a toothpick; Camel Strips which are film strips of tobacco that dissolve in the mouth; and Camel Orbs which are shaped similar to Tic Tacs. Then, there is the variety pack that includes all three of the aforementioned products.
On the label, even larger than the warning on cigarette packages, it warns: This product can cause gum disease and tooth loss (I’ll discuss the importance of teeth on another day). However the tobacco industry is hoping this trend will become as significant today as Virginia Slims was for Phillip Morris when they were introduced in 1968.
Reynolds has not said when this product will roll out nationally, but they are hopeful it will produce a new niche of female tobacco users who will help increase tobacco use, since cigarette sales continue to decline.
John Spangler, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, finds it “disturbing that any smokeless tobacco product is now becoming popular among women.”
Stephen Pope, a tobacco industry analyst and partner of Spotlight Ideas in England, says, “The dissolvable, perhaps with menthol or other flavored twists, has the potential to be a home run product for the female segment.”
As always my Boomacious ones, I am not judging. If you find an attractive manner in which to indulge your tobacco fettish, go for it. Just don’t let me catch you letting go of a stream of snuff while you’re styling your Christian Louboutins and your red, three piece, St. John ensemble.
Question: Will you use these new products or recommend them to a friend who is having difficulty quitting cigarettes?
Click below to view a trailer from the new movie, which according to its website, tells “the true story of the tobacco companies and their committment to addict the human brain, and how the world came to know about it.”
Entitled, Addiction Incorporated, the movie will premier December 12, 2011. Go to http://www.addictionincorporated.com to watch interviews with tobacco industry insiders and to find a screening near you.