The Winston-Salem Journal reports that R.J. Reynolds is expanding its test marketing of Camel Snus, a Swedish-style oral snuff that comes in little pouches that users place between the lip and gum. Bill Godshall, executive director of SmokeFree Pennsylvania and one of the few anti-smoking activists who has endorsed smokeless tobacco as a harm-reducing alternative to cigarettes, welcomes the move:
Reynolds' expansion of its test market for snus will provide millions of smokers with less-hazardous alternatives to cigarettes, which is welcom[e] news. It makes sense for Reynolds to gradually expand its test market for snus, as it's a new and entirely different product than cigarettes….Although smokeless tobacco is just as addictive as cigarettes, and should not be used by those who are not addicted to nicotine, cigarettes are about 100 times deadlier than smokeless-tobacco products.
Representing the orthodox quit-or-die position is Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
Every new city RJR picked has a clean-air law. This is about RJR doing everything they can to keep people from quitting.
Remember when anti-tobacco activists used to pretend that smoking bans were aimed at protecting bystanders from secondhand smoke? In case you're worried about secondhand saliva, R.J. Reynolds notes that its snus "does not require the consumer to spit."
Godshall co-authored an article about smokeless tobacco that appeared in the December 2006 Harm Reduction Journal. In my column last week, I noted that FDA regulation of tobacco products could impair competition between cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.