Smokeless tobacco products not a safe option, won't help smokers quit

Sep 13, 2010

Smokeless tobacco products should not be used as an alternative to cigarettes or for smoking cessation due to the risk of addiction and return to smoking, according to an American Heart Association policy statement.

Smokeless tobacco products such as dry and moist snuff as well as chewing tobacco may also increase the risk of fatal heart attack, fatal stroke and certain cancers, according to the statement published online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"No tobacco product is safe to consume," said Mariann Piano, Ph.D., lead writer of the statement and a professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Health Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The statement also addresses a controversy over whether product use is a "safer" alternative to . The idea that smokeless tobacco products are preferable to cigarettes is based in part on the Swedish experience where there was a significant decrease in smoking among Swedish men between 1976 and 2002 which corresponded to an increase in the use of smokeless tobacco.

However, the opposite was true in a recent United States study which found no reduction in smoking rates among people using smokeless tobacco products. For people trying to quit smoking, nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine gum or a nicotine-releasing patch placed on the skin) is a safer alternative compared to using smokeless tobacco products. Clinical studies have found no increased risk of or stroke with either type of nicotine replacement therapy.

As smoke-free air laws become common in the U.S., smokeless tobacco products have been marketed as a situational substitute ("pleasure for whenever") for cigarette smoking when smoking is prohibited.

"Smokeless tobacco products are harmful and addictive - that does not translate to a better alternative," Piano said.

Smokeless tobacco also is being used more by teenage boys, according to the statement. The Food and Drug Administration issued a final regulation related to the Tobacco Control Act that became effective June 22 that prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone younger than 18 years.

"Scientists and policy makers need to assess the effect of "reduced risk" messages related to smokeless tobacco use on public perception, especially among smokers who might be trying to quit," said Piano.

Explore further: Here's to wine, chocolate and a long, healthy life

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Is snuff the answer to quitting smoking?

Sep 18, 2006

Researchers in Washington say smokeless tobacco is much safer than cigarettes but the jury is out on whether smokers should be encouraged to switch habits.

Does Smokeless Tobacco Help Smokers Quit Cigarettes?

Jan 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Some smokers say they just can’t quit cigarettes. But previous studies of smokers in Sweden have suggested that many have done just that, by switching to smokeless tobacco. While not without health risks, ...

Smokeless tobacco safer than smoking

Jul 28, 2009

Smokeless tobacco products, as used in Europe and North America, do not appear to increase cancer risk. A large meta-analysis, published in the open access journal BMC Medicine, has shown that snuff as used in Scandinavia has no ...

Recommended for you

Here's to wine, chocolate and a long, healthy life

1 hour ago

Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122, remains the oldest person on record. One might assume that she led a faultless, healthy lifestyle. Not at all. Every year on her birthday, as her celebri ...

Experts discuss communications gap on vaccines

1 hour ago

The number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children is on the rise, and with it the incidence of preventable diseases such as measles. The health community could reverse the trend by doing a better ...

Do wearable lifestyle activity monitors really work?

14 hours ago

Wearable electronic activity monitors hold great promise in helping people to reach their fitness and health goals. These increasingly sophisticated devices help the wearers improve their wellness by constantly monitoring ...

User comments : 0