Other Tobacco Products (OTP) are the insidious new method to get people hooked on tobacco use and nicotine addiction. Particularly disturbing is the interest teens have in using these products. They are difficult to detect and currently exempt from tobacco-tax.
Camel’s Orbs product resemble candy, nicotine water is touted as a safe alternative to tobacco use, and snus is packaged in cans that resemble spit tobacco but the product does not require the user to spit.
So why are these products dangerous? Despite the fact that they do not involve inhaling, thus bypassing the lungs, the nicotine is still delivered to the brain. Like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects the brain pathways that control reward and pleasure. Nicotine lights up the same addiction centers as other drugs and therefore interferes with recovery efforts.
These products are designed by tobacco companies who have watched smoking rates decline. In an effort to deliver their addictive product in novel ways, and to young people, the industry has designed products to mimic common harmless products like candy and water bottles. Because current regulations do not include taxing these items, they slip through a loophole and can be more affordable than cigarettes or spit tobacco. School officials, parents, and those in addiction recovery roles should stay tuned for the newest clever tricks perpetrated by the industry. Make no mistake: the products are harmful because they contain the drug nicotine.