PLEASANT GROVE — Embattled former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is trying his hand at business with a startup nicotine mist company that he helped his brother found.
Shurtleff, who was critical of the tobacco industry as attorney general, said Wednesday his decision to start MicromistNOW came from an itch to get into the private business sector.
"That’s appealing to me, as it ought to be to anyone else," said Shurtleff, who is also currently working as a criminal defense lawyer.
MicromistNOW's first product is the QuickNic Nicotine Inhaler, a mouth spray which Shurtleff says is convenient and he insists will only be marketed to current smokers and e-cigarette users.
"Nicotine is addictive, and we warn people about that," Shurtleff said. "This is not a product we’re going to (sell) to get people started on nicotine in the first place. This is a product for smokers or vapors, people who already have a habit, or already want or choose to use nicotine in the form of cigarettes or vaping."
The business is based in Pleasant Grove, but orders can currently only be placed online. Nicotine mist isn't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but the company won't sell to anyone younger than 19 years old, Shurtleff said. He also said the nicotine doesn't contain any carcinogens shown to cause cancer, which are present in cigarettes.
Shurtleff is facing five felony charges from his time in public office: bribery to dismiss a criminal proceeding, obstruction of justice and three counts of accepting gifts. He is also charged with two misdemeanors: obstructing justice and official misconduct. He could serve up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted. He pleaded not guilty to the allegations in June.
Shurtleff made multiple public stances critical of the tobacco industry during his time as attorney general. In 2009, Shurtleff and attorneys from 41 other states signed a legal agreement with Sante Fe Natural Tobacco Company that prevented the cigarette maker, under the threat of fines, from including their brand and logo on various merchandise.
In 2012, he signed a letter along with government officials from 37 other states asking major motion picture studios to exclude tobacco use in movies geared toward young people.
"We mean it when we say this is a colossal, preventable tragedy," Shurtleff said at the time. "Everyone loves movies and we hope the movie studios will love their customers enough to take the needed steps to reduce the harm."
Shurtleff said MicromistNOW's business goals don't conflict with keeping minors safe from tobacco and other addictive products. The QuickNic Nicotine Inhaler is only available in menthol and cinnamon and not fruity flavors that appeal to children, he said.
"We say it’s smarter, safer, healthier," he said.
Kevin Shurtleff, brother to the former attorney general, is the "CEO and lead scientist" of MicromistNOW, according to information posted by the company online. MicromistNow also plans to market a sleep aid, energy inhaler and appetite suppressant.