FOX47 NEWS - Smokeless Tobacco Wave Coming

Jeff Angileri
May 12, 2009, 4:30 AM

Wisconsin lawmakers are expected to pass a statewide smoking ban this week, making Wisconsin the 26th state in the nation to go smoke-free, and there are already companies promoting products to get around it.

They're called nicotine delivery systems. They don't involve smoking, but experts say they're just as dangerous

They're packaged to look like gum and candy, new smoke-less tobacco products coming to a store near you.

The marketing of tobacco has totally changed, said Lyle Burmeister with Tobacco Free Dane County. He says the colors are getting brighter and flavors more exotic.

Grape flavored, apple flavored, honey flavored, cinnamon flavored, menthol, strawberry, you name it, Burmeister said.

The tobacco industry spends $13.4 billion every year to market products in the United States, $280 million in Wisconsin alone. Marketing to children and teens is illegal, but experts say these new products could be aimed toward them -- like tobacco sticks and a tobacco pouch placed under the tongue.

The biggest thing we know about them is we don't know, said Dr. Douglas Jorenby with UW School of Medicine.

Jorenby says none of these products has been tested by the FDA or independent medical groups. Tobacco in itself isn't dangerous, he says, it's the delivery system.

The smoke, the carbon monoxide, the tar, and the carcinogens, that come along with the nicotine -- that's the primary concern, he said.

Jorenby says young people are more susceptible to addiction because their bodies are still developing. And there's the teenage urge to try new things, and rebel.

With a state-wide smoking ban likely to pass on Wednesday, experts worry people who try to quit smoking will use these products because they're marketed as smokeless.

Experts say there's no safe alternative to cigarettes, other than quitting. You can get help by calling the free tobacco quit line, 1-800-quit-now.

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