Christian Engström, Pirat

7 mars 2013

Snus helps reduce smoking related deaths in Sweden

Filed under: English,snus — Christian Engström @ 13:11

Diagrams showing how snus has reduced smoking and smoking related diseases in Sweden (click to enlarge)

The EU is currently working on a revision of the Tobacco products directive. The primary goal of this directive is to reduce the harm to public health caused by smoking.

It is undisputed that smoking poses a major health problem, and there are a number of provisions in the directive that aim at getting fewer young people to start smoking in the first place: plain packaging, pictorial warnings, a ban on cigarette flavourings etc. Judging from the general mood in the European parliament, I would expect these measures to get the support from a large majority.

However, no matter how successful these actions will be in preventing young people from starting smoking, it will take decades before we will see any health improvements in the population from these actions alone.

The only way to get a positive health impact in the meanwhile is to get current smokers to quit.

Here is a letter (pdf) written by several independent public health specialists and addressed to the Swedish minister for public health. My position on snus is the same as theirs. They write:

There has been a remarkable success for public health in Sweden that deserves more recognition by policy‐makers. According to the most recent Eurobarometer survey, adult smoking prevalence in Sweden is just 13%. That is far lower than the EU average of 28% and the next closest member state at 23%. The reason for this is perfectly clear: it is that, in Sweden, snus has been widely used to quit smoking or as an alternative to cigarettes. Given that the risks associated with snus use are of the order of 95‐99% lower than for smoking, this has resulted in substantially reduced burdens of tobacco‐related disease (cancer, cardiovascular disease, emphysema) compared to other member states. Today’s low rates of smoking will translate to significant health benefits in future, relative to other member states.

Here is also a pdf with diagrams (from the same experts) that illustrate the success story of snus as a means for reducing smoking, and thus smoking related diseases, in Sweden.

Their policy recommendations, which I agree with, can be summarized:

  1. Let the decision to ban or not ban oral tobacco become a matter for each member state – reflecting the diverse cultural traditions in tobacco use and the different attitudes to harm reduction.
  2. Create a regulatory framework for all smokeless tobacco that would limit the toxic contaminants that potentially cause harm, that would be used by member states that decide to allow any form of oral tobacco.
  3. Allow characterizing flavours in smokeless tobacco (but ban them in cigarettes).

We are all in complete agreement that the EU needs to adopt policies to reduce smoking and the harm it causes. It is my belief that this policy on snus and oral tobacco would help achieve that goal.

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Further scientific data on the health effects of snus

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Declaration of interest: I am a snus user, which has allowed me to cut down my smoking drastically, even though I have not stopped completely yet. My wife used to smoke, but gave it up completely several years ago by switching to eucalyptus flavoured snus.

9 kommentarer

  1. It’s sad how Sweden’s actions when Bolivia demanded an exception from the single convention on narcotic drugs for chewing coca leaf has effectively destroyed the arguments for snus as well…

    Kommentar av Schonke — 7 mars 2013 @ 14:25

  2. @Schonke: Has it? Why?

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 7 mars 2013 @ 15:51

  3. […] The EU is currently working on a revision of the Tobacco products directive. The primary goal of this directive is to reduce the harm to public health caused by smoking. It is undisputed that smoki…  […]

    Pingback av Snus helps reduce smoking related deaths in Sweden | Tobacco Harm Reduction | Scoop.it — 8 mars 2013 @ 4:39

  4. […] See on christianengstrom.wordpress.com […]

    Pingback av Snus helps reduce smoking related deaths in Sweden | vapeforlife — 8 mars 2013 @ 4:39

  5. […] The EU is currently working on a revision of the Tobacco products directive. The primary goal of this directive is to reduce the harm to public health caused by smoking. It is undisputed that smoki…  […]

    Pingback av Snus helps reduce smoking related deaths in Sweden | VapeHalla! | Scoop.it — 8 mars 2013 @ 16:27

  6. ”@Schonke: Has it? Why?”

    I suppose he means that there is little to no proof that coca leafs are a major health issue – as is the case with snus, but that Sweden has acted totally different in handling policies regarding coca leafs.

    Kommentar av gurra — 8 mars 2013 @ 23:23

  7. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Snus should be banned and so should, more importantly, all forms of tobacco. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in Europe. It’s poison and should not be legally available for human consumption. End of. Do you want your children a) to be able to switch their nicotine addiction from cigarettes to snus? or b) to not be exposed to nicotine in the first place? True, banning it won’t get rid of nicotine entirely, but nobody doubts it would lead to a huge reduction…

    Kommentar av Anonrog — 9 mars 2013 @ 22:32

  8. […] Innovative & New Alternative To SmokingPromote Innovative & New Alternative To SmokingSnus helps reduce smoking related deaths in Sweden function xViewState() { var a=0,m,v,t,z,x=new […]

    Pingback av Are There Any Laws Of Importance With E Cigarettes? — 13 mars 2013 @ 10:09

  9. […] This is because snus is legal in Sweden (but not in any other EU country), which has given Swedish smokers the possibility to switch from smoking cigarettes to using snus. This represents a major health benefit, for although snus is not a healthy product in itself, snus is between 90 and 99% less dangerous than smoking. […]

    Pingback av Allowing snus in the EU could save 350.000 lives per year | Christian Engström, Pirate MEP — 25 mars 2013 @ 16:37


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