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FDA panel opposes dropping warnings from tobacco pouch
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Government advisers recommended against a proposal by Swedish Match to market its smokeless tobacco pouches as less harmful than cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The company has asked the Food and Drug Administration for permission to remove or revise several warning labels on the pouches, called snus. It’s the first request the FDA has considered publicly since it gained authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009.

But a panel of FDA advisers said overwhelmingly Friday that company data do not support relaxing warning labels on snus.

The eight-member panel voted unanimously that the company’s application does not show that snus lack the same risks of gum diseases and tooth loss as other smokeless tobacco products. Swedish Match has asked the FDA to drop those warnings from its U.S. offerings, including brands such as Longhorn, Timber Wolf and General snus.

Snus are teabag-like pouches or loose tobacco that users stick between their cheek and gum to absorb nicotine. They are popular in Scandinavian countries and are part of a growing smokeless tobacco market in the U.S. Swedish Match holds about 9 percent of the U.S. market, which is dominated by Richmond, Virginia-based Altria Group Inc., parent company of Phillip Morris.