The Use of Snus

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In the current European Journal of Epidemiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers Brad Rodu and Philip Cole estimate that 200,000 smoking-related deaths a year could be eliminated if all E.U. countries had the same smoking rate as Sweden, where men often use snus (smokeless tobacco) instead of cigarettes. "Overall tobacco use among Swedish men is the same as for men in all EU countries–40 percent," Rodu notes in a press release. "However, Swedish men smoke at less than half the rate of their EU counterparts, resulting in dramatically lower rates of fatal disease." The difference is due to the Swedish use of snus, which is banned in the rest of the E.U.

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  1. Is snus the same thing as SKOAL or COPENHAGEN? It’s banned in Europe?

  2. Yeah…are you saying I can smoke weed in Amsterdam, but I can’t chew tobacco??? (Not that I have a burning desire to do so, but still…chew tobacco, that is…)

  3. smokeless tobacco isn’t the greatest thing in the world. yes, it may not kill you, but you could lose half your face. anyone know how the rate of mouth cancer comes to cancer from smoking?

  4. Yes, snus is snuff like Skoal and Copenhagen.

    Chewing tobacco is banned?

    ROTFL @ Brian.

  5. Snus is Swedish-style oral snuff, placed between the lip and gums like those little packets of smokeless tobacco (e.g., Skoal Bandits) you can buy in the U.S. If anything, it is safer than the U.S. variety, because the Swedish curing method produces lower levels of carcinogenic nitrosamines. In fact, as Rodu and Cole note, the death rate among smokeless tobacco users in Sweden is not significantly different from the death rate among people who abstain from tobacco completely.

    In the U.S. smokeless tobacco use is associated with oral cancer, but even that disease is about twice as common among cigarette smokers. More important, smokeless tobacco use does not appear to contribute to any other potentially fatal diseases, including the major smoking-related causes of death (lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive lung disease). Yet while cigarettes remain legal throughout the E.U., smokeless tobacco is banned, except in Sweden.

    See my recent column on this topic at https://www.reason.com/sullum/122603.shtml.

  6. I support comprehensive tobacco education in the schools. Teach these kids that the best way to avoid tobacco-related diseases is to abstain from the use of tobacco, but if they *do* use tobacco, they should use the smokeless kind. There should be in-class demonstrations on the proper methods of dippin’ and chewin’. The anti-tobacco zealots may fuss and fume, complaining about “mixed messages.” They might support a simplistic policy in which the kids are only given a “just say no” message. But our kids deserve better! They deserve all the facts!

    Please let me know when they’re going to institute a comprehensive tobacco-education program, because my Uncle Earl is eager to demonstrate the finer points of chewin’ and spittin’ to the students.

    Plus, distribute free spitoons in the high schools!

  7. Numbnuts: How about we put the burden of tobacco education on the parents? The schools don’t seem to do very well at much of anything valuable. And I’d like to meet your uncle…

  8. Twice as much mouth cancer among smokers as tobacco chewers?

    Never knew that.

  9. One potential problem is that snus isn’t very tasty. But that problem are mostly related to the older kind of snus which is in direct contact with your lip and gums. When they introduced the newer kind where the snus is contained in small “bags” the rate of women using snus increased if I remember correctly.

  10. “…200,000 smoking-related deaths a year could be eliminated …”

    Now my brain hurts. I guess that reduction in smoking rates leads to higher death rates from something else. Dead people have to die of something eventually. Probably heart disease.

    Headline: “People who quit smoking or never smoke face higher death rates from heart disease.”

  11. Yeah, Swedes may not die, but I’ll bet their sex life suffers. It’s not exactly a turn-on to be around someone spitting brown stuff into a cup. (My brother-in-law used to dip). Imagine kissing someone whose whole mouth is filled with the residue. Yuch!

  12. Hehe, Linda, kissing a smoker isn’t any bit nicer, you know 🙂 but I guess chewing tobacco (more or less unknown here (sweden) at least for the last hundred years or so) is another piece of _ than snus. We don’t spit, for example. Cheers! *snusing along*

  13. One thing I’m wondering is:

    If the lower levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in snus explain the lack of association of snus use with oral cancer, then why can’t you make smokable tobacco from snus tobacco that reduced risk of respiratory cancers? Maybe because you’d still get TSNA formation by pyrolysis/pyrosynthesis during combustion of tobacco?

    A good review of snus’ impact on health in Sweden is:

    Foulds et al, 2003. Effect of smokeless tobacco (snus) on smoking and public health in Sweden. Tobacco Control 12:349-359.

  14. I switched from Skoal Long Cut Straight (what a lousy name) to Grovsnus portion packets. It costs the same, there is no spiting, you can’t see it in my mouth, it doesn’t get stuck in my teeth, and theres that whole “no cancer” thing. Yes, I know that it could very well still give me cancer, but the chances are less. Also, this is going to allow me to step down and quit eventually. I love this stuff.

  15. I Dip Cope and Skoal. I just got a shipment of snus today. Some loose, some portion. The portion stuff is much better than to loose. The loose stuff has the consistancy of clay. Smell a bit off too. But I am going to give it a try.

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