Radical Proposal on Smokeless Tobacco: How About Telling the Truth?

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The American Council on Science and Health has just published a position paper in which it endorses smokeless tobacco as a harm-reducing alternative to cigarettes. Based on a longer report by University of Louisville researcher Brad Rodu and Smoke-Free Pennsylvania founder Bill Godshall (which I reviewed and commented on prior to publication), it clearly lays out the huge difference in risk between oral snuff and cigarettes, correcting a record that has been deliberately muddied by public health officials and anti-smoking activists. The paper's policy recommendations generally seem sound to me, although it's sad they are necessary. "Government agencies and private health organizations should provide accurate and complete information about the health risks of tobacco," says the first one, "including information about the differential risks of different types of tobacco use." A less diplomatic way of putting it: Anti-smoking groups and their allies in government should stop lying.

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  1. I’ve been dipping copenhagen for years and never had a problem with worms or long relationships

  2. From PubMed:

    You might as well smoke; the misleading and harmful public message about smokeless tobacco
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    Background
    Compared to smoking cigarettes, use of Western smokeless tobacco (ST) products is associated with a very small risk of life-threatening disease (with estimates in the range of a few percent of the risk from smoking, or even less). This means that smokers can realize substantial health benefits by switching to ST, an obvious substitute. But consumers and policy makers have little chance of learning that ST is much less dangerous than smoking because popular information provided by experts and advocates overstates the health risks from ST relative to cigarettes.

    Methods
    To examine the extent of this overstatement in one medium, we conducted a systematic review of websites containing information about ST and health risks. We examined the content of 316 relevant websites identified by a Google search.

    Results
    We found that when any substantive information about the risk from ST is given, the risk is almost universally conflated with the risk from cigarettes. Accurate comparative risk information was quite rare, provided by only a handful of websites, all appearing low in our search results (i.e., of low popularity and thus unlikely to be found by someone searching for information). About 1/3 of the websites, including various authoritative entities, explicitly claimed that ST is as bad as or worse than cigarettes. Most of the other sites made statements that imply the risks are comparable.

    Conclusion
    Through these websites, and presumably other information provided by the same government, advocacy, and educational organizations, ST users are told, in effect, that they might as well switch to smoking if they like it a bit more. Smokers and policy makers are told there is no potential for harm reduction. These messages are clearly false and likely harmful, representing violations of ethical standards.
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