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Anti-smoking legislation loophole gives tobacco makers 21 months for new products

BY Jenna Duncan

WASHINGTON A loophole in the new anti-smoking bill will provide tobacco companies a 21-month window to introduce products to the market prior to federal approval, reports for the weekend stated. Several advocates have complained that the window goes against the reasoning behind adopting the bill, which will for the first time allow federal public health authorities the power to regulate tobacco.

HR 1108, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, passed in the House August 6 by a vote of 326 to 102, granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greater authority over tobacco makers. However, some critics have said that the 21-month “escape clause” built into the bill will allow companies to push new tobacco products in the next year and three quarters, before the FDA is prepared to begin regulating.

According to the language of the bill, the loophole clause applies only to “substantially equivalent” [very similar] new products compared to items already on the market at the bill’s introduction in 2007.

According to industry professionals and HR 1108 critics, tobacco companies often launch different versions of nearly identical formula cigarettes while working to expand their market. Critics said that companies that are right now developing these new items would simple speed up their marketing to launch them between now and the 21-month deadline.

Others have said that they are simply thankful for a compromise between the major tobacco makers in the country and anti-smoking advocacy groups. A spokesman from U.S. tobacco giant Philip Morris USA said that the bill speaks for itself and offered no other comment from the company.

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Folgers cuts coffee canister weight

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK Procter & Gamble, the sellers of Folgers coffee, said that it has reduced the weight of canisters from 13 ounces down to to 11.3 ounces as part of the company’s move to more “green” coffee production. The lower weight canisters are already on retailers’ shelves across the country at the same price, a company spokesman said.

The company said that the lower weight is a result of a different way of roasting coffee beans that has been tested for at least 10 years and is just as effective as the former method of roasting. Every can will of Folgers coffee will still yield 90 cups, the company added.

“This is not changing the end result to the consumer,” P&G spokesperson, Jen Becker, told the media. “We have an enhanced roasting process that actually derives more flavor from each bean and the roasting process actually makes the beans and the grind lighter.”

In June, J.M. Smucker Co. announced its plans to buy Folgers from P&G.

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Premium M&Ms take a new approach to ad treatment

BY Jenna Duncan

MCLEAN, Va. Mars has been working on a new set of TV ads to pump up the buzz about its new M&M’s Premium Chocolate Candies. Recycling the M&M’s characters who spring to life in the TV ads, with the Premiums presence, the new ads bump up the attitude of the characters and turn up the sexiness of the brand.

To initiate M&M’s into the premium chocolate market, the company said that is had to beef up the size of its regular M&Ms and get rid of the shells. M&M’s Premium candies have just a shiny, marble-ized top-coat that comes in different metallic finishes, such as raspberry red, mint green or blue, to match the each different flavor.

Ryan Bowling, a spokesman for Mars Snackfood U.S., told the public, “We’ve actually changed the recipe of M&M’s as America and the world knows it. This is a whole new recipe, both visually and to its taste, as well.”

New, spunky TV spots will air beginning next week on major networks such as AMC and the food Network. In one commercial, the green premium M&M character who represents the triple chocolate flavor, struts around the set enjoying one of the chocolate candies while a female voice coos about the great taste of M&M’s Premiums.

M&M’s Premiums are already on store shelves, distributed to outlets where M&M’s are sold, including convenience stores, supermarkets and mass chains like Target and Wal-Mart. A 6-oz. upright carton retails for about $3.99.

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