Snus does not save lives: quitting the use of tobacco does!

July 25, 2009 - The global tobacco industry realises that the end is near for the traditional cigarette, especially in the Western world. In order to keep their old customers and recruit new ones to nicotine addiction, a steadily growing number of cigarette manufacturers supplement their arsenals with various smoke-free products, including Scandinavian-type oral moist snuff (snus).

Not surprisingly, the harm reduction debate (ie, the substitution of one tobacco product with another) is supported by the moist snuff industry. The advocates of snus base their argument in part on the assumption that it is largely thanks to snus consumption that tobacco smoking—and thus the occurrence of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease—among Swedish men is low from an international perspective.

The myth of moist snuff’s powerful positive effect on Swedish smoking habits is contradicted by data from the national survey entitled ‘‘Ha¨lsa pa° lika villkor’’
(health on equal terms) undertaken by The Swedish National Institute of Public Health. The survey shows that 4 out of 10 snus users actually started their tobacco use with moist snuff and almost as many continue to smoke daily or occasionally in addition to using snus. It is estimated that no more than 5 percent of Swedish men found oral moist snuff helpful as an aid to quitting. The ratios are the same among women. To date, there are no longitudinal data demonstrating to what extent snus played a role in smoking cessation in individual cases. (Further evidence SNUS is NOT a component of smoking cessation..)

Research into the health effects of snus use is highly insufficient. In 2005, the
Swedish National Institute of Public Health published the report ‘‘Ha¨lsorisker med svenskt snus’’ (the health risks of Swedish moist snuff). Its conclusion was that snus is carcinogenic. The cancer research institute of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has also found Swedish moist snuff to be carcinogenic.3 Moreover, the EU Commission recently assigned an expert group to conduct an assessment of all available data. Combined with the latest published results of Swedish research, the situation can be summarised as follows: the use of Swedish moist snuff increases the risks of reversible and irreversible changes in oral mucus membranes and of pancreatic, oesophageal and gastric cancer, lethal heart infarction, lethal stroke and heightened blood pressure.

Furthermore, there are indications that snus use increases the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome (name for a group of symptoms that occur together and promote the development of coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes), premature births, low birth weight and pre-eclampsia. The health effects of nicotine addiction and long-term nicotine consumption are still unknown. At present, one out of three Swedish men and one out of five women are daily addicted to nicotine. Adults using snus leads to increased risk of snus consumption among children. An additional reason for a restrictive attitude towards the snus issue is new science on the interaction between nicotine and other drugs in the brain’s reward system. The findings show, for example, that adolescents who are snus users also have the highest alcohol consumption.
(Nicotine has a negative impact on the developing adolescent brain..)

Scandinavaian health authorities are in agreement - rather than promoting the use of Scandinavian moist snuff, we would like to see a major increase in preventive efforts. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published a strategy for effective initiatives to reduce tobacco damage. The Scandinavian countries (in fact, countries around the world) ought to implement the measures outlined in this strategy.

Snus does not save lives: quitting smoking does. Snus only saves the tobacco industry.A similar statement was made by Dr. Gunilla Bolinder, then director of education at Stockholm's Karolinska University Hospital, "To sing the praises of SNUS is a deathblow to 20 years of hard tobacco preventive work. SNUS only saves the life of the tobacco industry" (SNUS gets the thumbs-down NEWS-24 1/31/2007).

PAPER: COMMENTARY: Snus does not save lives: quitting smoking does!; L-E Holm, J Fisker, B-I Larsen, P Puska and M Halldórsson (correspondence to: B-I Larsen, Norwegian Directorate for Health, PO Box 8054 Dep, 0031 Oslo, Norway;; Tobacco Control 2009;18:250-251; doi:10.1136/tc.2009.030221; ABSTRACT - 1st 150 words...

Some related news briefs: Smokeless tobacco products may not curb smokers’ cravings..; Some facts for smokers to consider before considering smokeless tobacco..;Finland - proposal to ban tobacco display, total ban on SNUS..; Snuff Is NOT 'Safer' Substitute For Cigarettes..; Uphill Battle in Teaching Smokers to Use SNUS..; Encouraging smokeless tobacco use is not only a dangerous tactic in the drive to reduce smoking rates, but scientifically unproven as well..; United States - using smokeless tobacco does not help smokers quit..; Snus causes premature death..; Latest marketing ploy of tobacco companies: switch to smokeless...