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Star tobacco introducing Ariva 'cigaletts'. (Marketplace 2002/Corporate Profiles).

CHESTER, Va. -- Ariva, a smokeless, compressed powdered tobacco product made with specially cured tobacco that has a much lower level of toxins than conventionally cured tobacco, is being shown at this week's National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace Conference by Star Tobacco & Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Star Tobacco is the marketing and distribution subsidiary of Star Scientific, whose founder and chief executive officer, Jonnie Williams, invented the patented toxin-reducing tobacco curing technology called StarCured. According to a company spokesman, StarCured tobacco has a very low concentration of the toxins known as tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), which are part of a class of powerful carcinogens.

Because they use 100% StarCured tobacco, Ariva compressed powdered tobacco pellets, or "cigaletts," "have TSNA levels 95% to 98% lower than other tobacco products, he says. In addition, because smokeless tobacco is not burned, the Ariva user is exposed to fewer carcinogens than the 43 known or suspected to be in the smoke from regular cigarettes.

Public health authorities have determined that there are only a handful of toxins that are of concern in smokeless tobacco, and of this handful only the nicotine and TSNAs appear to be at levels that are likely to be linked to health problems," notes the spokesman.

The level of nicotine contained in an Ariva cigalett is said to be approximately what a smoker obtains from alit cigarette.

Ariva also enjoys an aesthetic advantage over smokeless tobacco products that have to be expectorated. Ariva cigaletts dissolve in the mouth, so they are ideal for confirmed smokers (their intended audience) to use in the smokeless environments increasingly common throughout the country, such as restaurants and airplanes. The products are flavored with mint and eucalyptus.

Ariva is not a smoking cessation product, Star Tobacco emphasizes, but one meant to enable smokers to satisfy their craving in places where smoking is not permitted (or is discouraged) and to do so in a way that is potentially less harmful to them than smoking.

The development of Ariva was based partly on scientific research done in Sweden. Swedish smokeless tobacco, called "snus," has substantially lower TSNA levels than conventional moist snuff sold in the United States.

Though use of conventional smokeless tobacco has been associated with increased risk of mouth cancer, the research from Sweden found that snus users do not appear to have a substantially elevated risk of mouth, head and neck cancers. This finding raised the possibility of a connection between lower TSNA levels and reduced cancer risk.

StarCured smokeless tobacco has TSNA levels at least 80% lower than those in Swedish snus.

Star Scientific and Star Tobacco position themselves as socially responsible developers and marketers of tobacco products. They are committed to developing "products that are as safe as possible to meet the needs of adults who continue to use tobacco products despite the health risks, but also to inform them fully about the dangers of the products."

They also readily acknowledge that no studies exist yet showing a connection between lower nitrosamine levels in tobacco products and reduced health risk.

"We decided to take a very conservative course regarding any health claims unless and until we have good, peer-reviewed data to support them," notes communications director Sara Machir.

Accordingly, Star Tobacco does not label or advertise Ariva as containing lower nitrosamines. The product is intended only for current adult tobacco users and will not be marketed to young audiences or nonsmokers.

Ariva cigaletts are individually blister-packaged -- 10 on two cards per box. Machir explains that Star Tobacco decided on the blister packaging, the most child-safe type, to help prevent accidental ingestion by toddlers and children -- a significant risk, as Center for Disease Control statistics testify.

Ariva is priced comparably to a pack of premium cigarettes.

Star Tobacco began test-marketing Ariva in November and decided in late January to broaden the product's distribution. Until this year the company's sales had been concentrated in Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Minnesota, but recently it signed a distribution agreement with a broadly based broker.

"We are definitely distributing the product more broadly now," Machir reports. "Also, we are finalizing agreements with several major distributors and will then be in a position to present Ariva to large retail chains."

Ariva was in 46 CVS Corp. stores in the Richmond, Va., area during its test marketing, Machir says, and the results were such as to warrant further discussion about broader distribution in the chain.

Parent company Star Scientific's first product, developed together with Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., was Advance cigarettes, which use StarCured tobacco as well as burley and oriental tobaccos that were selected for their naturally low TSNA content.

Advance cigarettes, launched in test markets in the fall of 2000, also include a 40-mg. carbon/acetate filter to reduce other toxins present in the vapor phase of tobacco smoke.

The package carries enhanced warning language on the back and an "onsert" strip with information about the tobacco constituents in Advance, the risk associated with their consumption and the message that it is better to quit smoking than to switch brands. Brown & Williamson markets and distributes this product.

Star Scientific has also integrated StarCured tobacco into four discount cigarette brands marketed by its Star Tobacco subsidiary.

Star Tobacco & Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Subsidiary of Star Scientific Inc.

801 Liberty Way Chester, Va. 23836-2704

Key contact: Brad Pelfrey, Distict Sales Manager

Web site:

Phone: (804) 530-0535, Fax: (804) 530-8474


Low-TSNA tobacco products

Marketplace booth #2429
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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 24, 2002
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