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You snus, you loose


December 2014
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Snus are discreet cousins of chewing tobacco which doesn’t require spitting, and which is tucked between the lower lip or cheek and the gum then chewed. The nicotine in this smokeless tobacco is absorbed through tissues in the mouth.

Swedish Match – the company that sells snus – wants USA regulators to change course and declare snus smokeless and less harmful than cigarettes. They’re asking USA to bless snus as less toxic. But snus is banned in the European Union, and is relatively obscure outside of Sweden, its home country. However,there’s the usual fear which accompanies any potential drug addiction: to say that snus are less dangerous risks encouraging nicotine addiction.

Snus do carry risks and is an unsafe alternative to cigarettes in USA and elsewhere. Still, the Swedish Vice President of Swedish match- hildingsson – considers it as a useful stimulant and a daily pleasure. Hildingsson compares snus to things as common place as taking a cup of coffee or going to the theatre or having sex without reproduction or drinking every now and then.

A nytimes article “A lesser warning? Maybe” on 11/30/14 says that Sweden has a 10% of tobacco related death rate compared to USA’s 23% (WHO). But the article doesn’t mention that 20% of men use snus in Sweden, nor does it say anywhere that this Viking country’s decreased smoking death rate could also be due to its 9 1/2 million population compared to USA’s almost 320 million, which makes USA 33 1/2 times bigger in population than Sweden. USA counts 18.1 % of smokers or 42 million americans [CDC factsheet as of 2012, a 2% decrease form 2005]. The higher the population, the greater the percentage of people smoking or snussing and therefore affected. If Sweden has a smaller percentage of tobacco related deaths it could be because of its population being almost 1/4 of USA’s. And the article doesn’t tell you what the pancreatic cancer rate in Sweden is or other tobacco related statistics.

BBC published a report – available to the EU – on research done by one of the top medical universities in Sweden, which discovered that the overall assessment of the experimental and epidemiological evidence of snus is that it is carcinogenic (Daniel Cook at on 10june 2006). Swedish use of snus has decreased smoking in Sweden, and they think it’s due to snus, but the European Union has still banned it; one needs to explore why it is banned in the European union.

If it is banned in parts of Europe, why should USA NOT adopt snus? First obvious reason is because tobacco products are harmful and are NOT a risk free alternative to smoking, despite what hildingsson is saying. It can be addictive and although it may be safer than cigarettes it can cause serious problems; otherwise it wouldn’t been banned In the European Union, right? Besides this,  Webmd believes that smokeless tobacco can lead to :
1. leukoplakia – white latches, reed sores in mouth which can turn into mouth cancer and thee a greater Rosie of getting mouthy cancer with smiles tobacco than not
2. An increased risk of pancreatic and esophageal cancers
3. Tooth loss and other dental problems including gums pulling away from teeth and not growing back.

Snus may be less harmful, but it doesn’t mean that it is safe. Most of the dangerous byproducts of cigarettes are created during the burning process. The nitrosamines (cancer causing chemicals) in snus are lower than in cigarettes, but the catch is that they are not low. The nitrosamine level in snus is still 100 times greater than nitrosamine level in nitrite preserved foods and we have seen super sizing America (not super sizing Sweden) and other movies in the US on our obese problem of food?

After all that’s said and done about wanting to quit smoking and using snus or using e cigarettes instead, most smokers may not be trying to achieve abstinence but interested in enjoying tobacco in a safer manner. Snus and e cig seem to be part of an insidious marketing of tobacco products in ways that seek to discourage smokers from quitting and keep them hooked on nicotine. Not only can snus encourage uptake among non tobacco users which can lead to smoking or dual usage, but it is the most preventable disease we have in the world (besides sugar). Whether Snussers, cigarette smokers or e cigarette users, users are spending a lot of money to kill themselves and industries and regulators are actively helping them.


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