It is big news today, April 15, 2010, that congress is urging baseball to ban smokeless tobacco use by players during games because it is so dangerous and it encourages young folk to take up a cancer causing habit. ABC news gives us a horror story about a 17 year old boy with his jaw removed because of cancer caused by smokeless tobacco.
The problem is that not all smokeless tobacco is created equal. The traditional American dipping snuff like Copenhagen or Skoal is loaded with carcinogens and is indeed likely to give you mouth cancer if you use it.
But traditional Swedish snus is essentially free of carcinogens. And this is now available in the United States in the form of smokeless, spitless tobacco such as Camel Snus.
Long term studies in Sweden show a major reduction in smoking and lung cancer as the Swedes have adopted snus as a substitute for cigarettes. Snus has proven far more effective as a replacement for cigarettes than has nicotine gum or the patch because snus gives a bang of nicotine very similar to a cigarette. And best of all, snus does not cause oral cancer.
Even the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom has decided to recommend snus as a harm reduction strategy for the UK.
People who try and tar all smokeless tobacco with the same brush are not public benefactors. They perpetuate harm which could be prevented by adopting a rational harm reduction policy in the United States.
Brunnemann KD, Qi J, Hoffmann D. (2001).
Aging of Oral Moist Snuff and the Yields of Tobacco-Specific N-Nitrosamines (TSNA)
American Health Foundation, Valhalla, N.Y. 10595
Free Full Text
Hoffmann D, Djordjevic MV. (1997).
Chemical composition and carcinogenicity of smokeless tobacco.
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Harm reduction in nicotine addiction: Helping people who can't quit
A report by the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians, October 2007