February 28, 2009 - Twenty-six of the United States' leading tobacco control researchers and policy experts have called for regulatory control of all tobacco products. They also called for policies that encourage current tobacco users to reduce their health risks by switching from the most to the least harmful nicotine-containing products.
This group met in a two-year process they called The Strategic Dialogue on Tobacco Harm Reduction - members met four times between December 2005 and August 2007.
Their vision: a world in which virtually no one uses cigarettes. But the group acknowledged that smokeless-tobacco products are an option for reducing health risks for tobacco users. They also called for policies that encourage current tobacco users to reduce their health risks by switching from the most to the least harmful nicotine-containing products.
PAPER: Mitch Zeller et al., The strategic dialogue on tobacco harm reduction: A vision and blueprint for action in the United States, Tob Control 2009 0: 200802731, ABSTRACT..
We’re all for this safer alternative if distribution could be limited to inveterate tobacco smokers (smokers who are either unable or unwilling to quit). The harm reduction component envisioned by the American Association of Public Health Physicians would be part of a larger program, with "marketing" limited to satisfying the nicotine addiction of inveterate smokers at substantially less health risk than smoking.
Let's be realistic it would be impossible to limit distribution of smokeless tobacco products to inveterate tobacco smokers. As Professor John Britton, Chairman of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, a proponent of harm reduction solution has concluded, “It’s their (tobacco companies) job to sell as much tobacco as possible, so they will be targeting non-smokers rather than current ones, that’s the worry.”
Dr. Britton is correct in that tobacco companies have an entirely different goal in mind – they are already targeting a much younger crowd of young adults and any kids they can entice along the way - witness the tagline for Camel SNUS: "Pleasure for wherever." Or how about the ads that have be run in local papers where Camel SNUS was being test marketed. Smokeless tobacco manufacturers are very disappointed with the progress of the SNUS segment in total. The entire segment itself has gained very little traction, and we had plans to be more aggressive.
"There is no evidence smokeless tobacco can help people quit smoking. There are no studies we would consider sufficient." Dr. Terry Pechacek, Associate Director of Science at the Centers for Disease Control Office on Smoking and Health. (SNUS the BUMP, Nordic Reach (The Scandinavian Lifestyle Quarterly}, No.17 Volume XIX, 2007, p53). The vast majority of inveterate smokers will not learn the art of snusing. Murray Kessler, former Chief Executive Officer of UST, Inc - the world's leading producer of moist smokeless tobacco products - tells us that 9 out of 10 smokers that try smokeless reject the product. Smokers faced with the increased in the federal tax on cigarettes (effective April 1, 2009) have been telling clerks at c-stores they're thinking of quitting but hardly anyone has indicated they are thinking of switching to smokeless tobacco.
We surely don't want our children - our future leaders to end up being nicotine addicts never able to achieve their full potential. Take a look at the first of R.J. Reynolds new dissolvable smokeless tobacco products called Camel Orbs (candy-like product) next to a container of Tic-Tacs candies - quite similar.
Here's a statement from Dr. Brad Rodu’s web site TobaccoHarmReduction.org: “Of course, you can also try pharmaceutical nicotine products but unfortunately the available nicotine patches and gums are not designed to be good long-term alternatives to tobacco.” It seems to indicate they want the users to continue with their addiction possibly forever.
One of many related news briefs (do a random search of the archive): NO - don't even consider legalizing SNUS in Australia..
References: Experts in Government, Public Health, Public Policy and Science Outline Blueprint for Reducing Death and Disease From Tobacco in the United States, redOrbit, 2/24/2009; A World Without Cigarettes
Group acknowledges smokeless products are option for reducing health risks, CSP Daily News, 2/27/2009.