Jim Pankow, PhD, published his investigation on flavorants in smokeless tobacco in Food and Chemical Toxicology. He concluded that the level of flavorants in smokeless tobacco products averages 50% higher than in some well-known candy products. He also discussed measurements of methyl salicylate (wintergreen) and menthol flavorants in a large number of smokeless tobacco products. Dr. Pankow said, “The bottom line for our paper is that the flavorant levels in the smokeless products are in general markedly higher than in popular wintergreen and menthol flavored tobacco products. Moreover, the amount of wintergreen flavorant could by itself pose serious health risks to some consumers.”
Chemicals such as methyl salicylate are often used as flavorants by manufacturers of smokeless tobacco and candy. This study notes that for a typical user of smokeless tobacco, the levels of wintergreen flavorant in numerous brands of smokeless tobacco lead to chemical consumption rates that exceed the maximum acceptable daily intake established by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Association and the World Health Organization.
After the concern was expressed within the public health community that adding flavorant compounds made smokeless tobacco products more “candy like” and thus more appealing to youth, Dr. Pankow decided, “that someone should make some direct comparisons between the levels of such flavorant compounds in major smokeless tobacco products and popular brand-name candy products.” At a committee hearing in the 1990s, Oregon US Senator Ron Wyden asked the CEOs of the major tobacco companies if they believed nicotine was addictive. He stated, “Before Congress and the American people they denied the addictiveness of their product. This report indicates that the tobacco companies are still ...deceiving the public by using smokeless tobacco flavorants to appeal to underage users. Dr. Pankow’s study is an important addition to the scientific oversight of the tobacco industry and will be incredibly helpful in safeguarding the health of Americans.”
(Source: Portland State University news release, January 12, 2010)