Smokeless Tobacco Substitutes Save Lives

Using smokeless tobacco products in place of cigarettes can save smokers' lives, and now there is scientific evidence to prove it. This is according to a research findings presented by Brad Rodu, D.D.S. from the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

According to Rodu, “Quit or die: That's been the brutal message delivered to 45 million American smokers, and it has helped contribute to 443,000 deaths per year, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The truth, however, is that total nicotine and tobacco abstinence is unattainable and unnecessary for many smokers."

Rodu’s research demonstrates that smokers can greatly reduce their risk of disease and death by replacing smoking products with e-cigarettes or modern, spit-free smokeless tobacco. These products provide a much safer alternative for those smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit smoking because they continue to deliver nicotine without the harmful effect of smoking.

Decades of epidemiologic research fall in line with Rodu’s findings. Although no tobacco product is completely safe, smokeless products have been found to be 98 percent safer than cigarettes. In the U.K., the Royal College of Physicians reported in 2002 that smokeless tobacco is up to 1,000 times less hazardous than smoking.

To find the evidence of what tobacco harm reduction can do, Rodu recommends we look to Sweden. He claims, “Over the past 50 years, Swedish men have had Europe's highest per capita consumption of smokeless tobacco as well as Europe's lowest cigarette use. During the same time, they also have the lowest rate of lung cancer than men in any other European country."

In the U.S., there have been steps made to document the value of tobacco harm reduction. In 2006, a National Cancer Institute-funded study estimated that if tobacco harm reduction was “responsibly communicated” to smokers, 4 million people would change to smokeless tobacco. The American Council on Science and Health also concluded in 2006 that tobacco harm reduction “shows great potential as a public health strategy to help millions of smokers.”

Rodu is fully aware of the controversy generated by his findings. Opponents of any nicotine delivery products maintain that their use puts an individual at greater risk for oral cancer, a position not supported by research.

He argues, "The risk of mouth cancer among smokeless tobacco users is extremely low - certainly lower than the risk of smoking-related diseases among smokers. The annual mortality rate among long-term dry snuff users is 12 deaths per 100,000 and the rate among users of more popular snus, moist snuff and chewing tobacco is much lower.”

Rodu concludes, "The data clearly show that smokeless tobacco users have, at most, about the same risk of dying from mouth cancer as automobile users have of dying in a car wreck."


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